Xavier Tilos Villagonzalo, 27, was appointed along with 27 international students from 23 countries, one year after he was first chosen by former Lord Mayor, and now Queensland Premier, Campbell Newman.
The Lord Mayor Graham Quirk, who announced the new representatives, said that Brisbane’s international student ambassador program is part of a wider strategy outlined in the Economic Development Plan 2012–2031, to deliver a first-rate experience for international students and empower them to become advocates of the city and promote Brisbane to the world.
Villagonzalo struggled after his mother died in an accident involving a passenger jeepney that fell off the cliff in Bondo, Siaton in 1994, when he was 9. His father, meanwhile, died of diabetes complications.
A former youth volunteer of the Diocese of Dumaguete Commission on Youth, Villagonzalo finished his Bachelor of Mass Communications degree in 2006 in Silliman and received a YMCA Outstanding Student Award of Negros Oriental the same year. He also served as chair of the Silliman University Corps of Campus Ambassadors for years 2004-2006.
He is also expected to finish his Bachelor of Information Technology degree this year at Queensland University of Technology.
This year’s program includes students age 22 to 42 from some of Brisbane’s largest source markets like China, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Bangladesh, Croatia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iran, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Venezuela and Vietnam. (www.visayandailystar.com)