Red, white and blue with cold

April 30, 2004

The truth about what foreigners really think of Britain and its people was revealed at this year's International Student Awards.

The entrants wrote letters home that paint a picture of a country where people wear inappropriate clothes, eat too many potatoes and have an equivocal relationship with the English language.

The winner, Yi Duan Ho, claimed the £2,000 gold prize for her tale of how adversity turned into a life-changing experience.

Ms Ho, a 20-year-old BSc actuarial science student from Malaysia, arrived in the UK temporarily confined to a wheelchair after an accident at home.

She was amazed to find her injury led her into a new world of friends and opportunities.

A disability officer at the London School of Economics introduced her to a support network and she began helping other students with disabilities by taking notes for them and typing up assignments.

This encouraged her to become involved in voluntary work around London, and she is planning to work with the Malaysian government and voluntary agencies when she returns home.

A total of 2,300 international students, 26 per cent more than last year, from 145 countries entered the competition, which is run by the British Council and supported by The Times Higher .

The 11 other finalists, who received silver awards and £1,000 each, are: Cleopatra Mukula from Kenya (studying at Brunel University); Piyush Roy from India (Cardiff University); Weihan Zhang from Singapore (Imperial College London); Chun Man Yip from Hong Kong (Imperial); Ryo Shigaki from Japan (Liverpool John Moores University); Maritza Blanco from Colombia (London Institute); Jantapa Phitsanuvisayavat from Thailand (Queen Anne's School, Caversham); Cristina Boghiu from the Republic of Moldova (King's School, Ely); Bradley Jones from the US (Glasgow University); Marwa Khalid Al-Sabbagh from Bahrain (Nottingham University); and Zhihua Pan from China (University of the West of England).

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