The Most Influential International Student Clubs at ANU

International students are an integral part of life on-campus. Not only do they constitute at least a quarter of the student body, but when they come to study in Canberra, they bring a part of their homeland with them.

International student clubs organise a dizzying array of social, cultural, academic and sporting events that enrich university life, and bring together both domestic and international students. Certain clubs and societies exert outsized influence on campus life. So who are the biggest players at the ANU? In the spirit of this week’s edition of Woroni focusing on all things power and politics on campus, this reporter has done some research to find out for you.

Great Powers

Asian Students in Australia Association

Since its inception in July 2012, the Asian Students in Australia Association (ASIAA) has grown in leaps and strides. Originally envisioned as a club aimed at catering to Asian-Australian students, ASIAA has successfully repositioned itself to bring together Asians of all backgrounds.

With some of the best use of social media and marketing (and dress sense) of any student club, ASIAA’s social events have redefined cool. It displays an incredible ability to constantly reinvent itself, with its calendar featuring permanent sell-out events like its annual Birthday Party, Boat Cruise and Cocktail Night along with new events like Sundae Night and Lasertag & Gelato. ASIAA’s events are usually linked with a specific theme, adding to the vitality of its social calendar.

With extraordinary ambition to be the best, in just three years ASIAA has risen to the top tier of international student clubs at ANU.

Malaysian Students’ Organisation

No list of the most influential international student clubs at the ANU would be complete without the Malaysian Students’ Organisation (MSO). MSO was recognised at the end of 2014 as Runner Up for Club of the Year at ANUSA’s Clubs and Societies Awards Night. Under the leadership of President Tan Wen Xin in 2015, MSO has continued its extraordinary momentum. This year, it was Runner Up for Most Active Club at the Council of International Students’ Australia (CISA) Excellence Awards.

MSO’s calendar of events features an impressive array of high-quality social, cultural, academic and sporting events that reflects the diversity of Malaysia. These include Eid and Chinese New Year-themed Welcome Parties, a Badminton Open competition, Bubble Soccer, Career Information Session and a trip to Skyfire, Canberra’s annual fireworks extravaganza.

MSO is also an eager and willing partner with other organisations. MSO has been well-represented in the wider ANU community, participating in large-scale events including UniLodge Lunar New Year, Dragon Night Market, The Night Market, PARSA Big Day and the Eid al-Fitr Festival.

Singapore Students’ Association

After the stellar work of previous executives, winning Best Club of the Year (2013) and Joint Event of the Year (2014), SSA’s executive in 2015 had a tough act to follow in maintaining the high calibre of one of ANU’s leading international student clubs. Under the leadership of President Ryan Lim however, this year’s committee has risen to the challenge.

SSA has displayed immense skill in being able to address specific needs of the Singaporean community while promoting the best of Singapore to the wider student body. Its active calendar of events has included biannual Welcome Evenings, a movie night, careers information session and Singapore’s Golden Jubilee celebration. 2015 has also been a year of reflection and remembrance, with SSA paying tribute in a moving ceremony to Singapore’s first Prime Minister and founding father Lee Kuan Yew, who passed away in March this year.

SSA has most prominently established its claim to fame with The Night Market, which was held at the beginning of May. Touted as the ANU’s greatest food event, this year The Night Market brought together 23 student clubs and societies and attracted nearly 1000 people. The fact that SSA was able to handle the enormous logistics of this event with virtually no hiccups is a testament to their professionalism and commitment to excellence.

Middle Powers

ASEAN Society

Under the leadership of President Haseeb Ikram in 2015, the ANU ASEAN Society has continued its rise to power as a student club that promotes Southeast Asia socially, culturally and academically.

Spearheaded by Contents Director Jayshendra Karunakaren, the ASEAN Society’s academic portfolio has been visibly strengthened, hosting well-attended public lectures on the South China Sea and Myanmar’s 2015 general election, as well as a visit to the Royal Thai Embassy.

While strengthening its academic portfolio, ASEAN Society has sought to maintain its social and cultural profile, with biannual Welcome Parties, movie and trivia events, a dessert and games night, participating in Lunar New Year and The Night Market and co-hosting CAP Ball.


EKTA, the South Asian Students’ Society, has had a longstanding reputation across the ANU for many of its regular annual events, including Holi, the EKTA Cultural Show and EKTA Ball. Getting an EKTA Ball ticket, as previous attendees can attest, can often be harder than getting the tutorial slot you want at the beginning of semester; tickets usually sell out in only a few hours.

Not content to rest on its laurels however, EKTA 2015 has sought to expand to new and exciting horizons. In a statement by the Society’s Vice President of Administration at the beginning of the academic year, Suraj Laha stated: “We want all students of ANU to get involved with EKTA’s events and share the culture of South Asia with everyone.”

This year EKTA hosted a Bonfire Night to raise much needed funds for the Fred Hyde CO-ID Foundation (to help build schools in disadvantaged communities in Bangladesh) and Relief for Nepal given recent earthquake tragedies. It has tapped into the popularity of the Indian subcontinent’s most popular sport, screening the ICC Cricket World Cup match between Pakistan and India, and the finals played between New Zealand and Australia.

EKTA has, most impressively, negotiated an array of sponsorship deals for its members with a variety of local businesses, including PappaRich, Pancake Parlour, Gods Café, Delhi 6 and Chatime. This undoubtedly makes EKTA membership one of the best value for money among ANU student clubs.

Indonesian Students’ Association

The Indonesian Students’ Association (ISA) has continued to promote Indonesian culture at the ANU through an array of academic, social and cultural events, including Welcoming parties, public lectures and Indonesian language exchange.

Most notably, towards the end of Semester 1, the ISA screened the award-winning 2013 Indonesian documentary Jalanan (“Streetside”). Jalanan tells the story of Boni, Ho & Titi, three gifted, charismatic street musicians in Jakarta over a tumultuous 5-year period in their own lives and that of Indonesia. Screened with much acclaim in Indonesia, and recipient of many international awards, including the 2013 Busan International Film Festival award for Best Documentary, in recent months it has been shown in cities around Australia. Screening at the ANU to a packed-out Coombs Lecture Theatre, almost $2000 was raised to find Boni, Ho & Titi a permanent home.
With a jam-packed Semester 2 planned, ISA’s ascent can only continue.

Japan Club

For anyone interested in Japanese culture, Japan Club is the go-to place. With iconic events like its Hajimari Welcome Party, Sukiyaki Night and Cosplay Party, Japan Club sets the standard when it comes to what’s happening on campus.

Not enough for you? Try the fact that Japan Club has movie screenings and language exchange every week. Oh yeah, did I mention that they have their own softball team as well? Yep, ANU Phoenix are a force to be reckoned with when you put them on the softball pitch with baseball bats and mitts.

All in all, Japan Club is a pretty gangster group, and if you haven’t made their acquaintance yet, what are you waiting for?

Taiwanese Students’ Association

A determined and passionate 2015 committee has been busy bringing the best of Taiwan to ANU. While continuing its traditional fun events like its semesterly Welcome Parties and Skyfire picnic, TSA has also experimented with new events to build more interactions in Canberra’s Taiwanese community. Its “Taiwan Connect” event last semester brought together Taiwanese with guest speakers from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Australia.
With new committee recruitment this semester, expect more fun and exciting times with the TSA.

Vietnamese Students’ Association

After successfully hosting the Vietnamese Cultural Festival in October 2014, which saw several hundred people in attendance in Union Court and was shortlisted for Special Event of the Year at ANUSA’s Clubs and Societies Awards Night, VSA has shown that for them, the sky is the limit.
VSA has continued its winning streak with events this year including hosting Universal Lunch Hour, a Welcome Party at iPho, a food fundraiser and a BBQ & Games afternoon.
Most impressively, the VSA committee has negotiated sponsorship deals with several Canberra businesses, including many regularly patronised by ANU students, such as PappaRich, The Gods Café and Dessert Castle, as well as two Vietnamese restaurants.
Expect more great things to come from the VSA; they will probably not only meet your expectations, but well exceed them.

Image: EKTA Cultural Festival photographed by Nic Bills

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