James Xi Xu, an Italian and management studies undergraduate at University College London, was one of 12 regional finalists chosen from among 1,220 entrants from 118 different countries in this year’s International Student Awards competition, known as Shine!
Mr Xu, 23, has been a volunteering officer at UCLU, the University College London students’ union. He has also encouraged other students to set up their own projects and has undertaken summer internships for the British Red Cross, and he will help the London Olympic Organising Committee select volunteers for the 2012 games.
His “letter home” describing his experiences of living and studying in the UK was judged to be the best and the most inspiring by a panel made up of representatives from the British Council, media partner Times Higher Education, and Stephanie Tiew, a previous International Student Awards winner.
Mr Xu’s letter recounts how his time in the UK had inspired his passion for the third sector and voluntary work. “I feel really lucky to have chosen London,” he writes.
The judges’ decision was announced yesterday at an awards ceremony in London. The winners and runners-up were handed their awards by TV and radio presenter Angelica Bell, British Council chief executive Martin Davidson and BBC Radio 1 DJ Nihal.
The event was attended by all the finalists, along with representatives of their universities, further and higher education colleges and schools.
Accepting a trophy and £2,000 prize, Mr Xu said: “When I came to the UK, I found volunteering is such a big thing and that has really inspired me to help other people.
“I never expected to win tonight. When I see the achievements of the other regional finalists it makes me feel humble – I am in awe of them.”
Mr Davidson said Mr Xu had “immersed himself in life in the UK and has made a huge contribution not just to his university but to the wider community”.