Obeth Rai’s journey to graduation wasn’t an easy one, but his advice to others is simple: “don’t quit.”

Obeth received his Bachelor of Contemporary Arts from the University of Tasmania in 2018. He knows a lot about struggle and perseverance. Growing up in a refugee camp, he never let his natural creativity be dimmed. 

When I was in the refugee camp in Nepal, I was involved in theatre. I started one small theatre school. I was teaching dance and basic acting. After few years of struggle, I got the opportunity to act in a movie called In Search of a Nation.

Obeth Rai, Contemporary Arts graduate.

“I was also a street performer. I danced and performed street drama. That experience helped me to get into this course. I already knew about some techniques and skills about performing,” he said.

“After that when I came here, I was super excited to know about the theatre and learn more academically and technically.”

When Obeth enrolled at the University, he was excited but nervous. The support of his friends, and particularly Dr Jane Woollard (Head of Theatre), helped him through. 

Obeth received his Bachelor of Contemporary Arts from the University of Tasmania in 2018.

In the beginning I had a lot of challenges. I discuss with my teachers and friends and they help me. Slowly I got onto the right level. It was very hard and it’s very challenging.

Dr Woollard said Obeth has outstanding movement skills and incredible energy for community-engaged practice.

“His skills as a performer and community leader within the Bhutanese community mean he is well-positioned to make a significant contribution to Tasmania’s community and cultural sector,” she said.

Obeth is passionate about telling the story of refugees. He has organised screenings of films that highlight refugee narratives, and he was part of the TasDance ensemble for Yatra, a dance performance about Bhutanese refugees that was part of Mona Foma.

“The concept was based on our story. I feel very lucky to have been part of that project. I am always looking for the chance to explore our story. That is a really good platform. I learned different things regarding performing. 

When we performed, some of our parents came and they cried. They feel grateful to us because we tell their story.

“They feel proud because I am the first child to get into university and get to that level of education.”

Obeth is now sharing his passion for dance with young kids, teaching them a blend of contemporary and traditional moves, incorporating elements of Bollywood and Nepalese dance. In the future, he wants to keep working in the creative industries.

“I’d really love to work with people of different cultural backgrounds because I believe that we can do more things through various cultural experiences and I also love filmmaking. I am planning to start my own project filmmaking,” he said.

“I have also done some script writing based on social context and directed in our community.”

Obeth’s advice to students with a similar background to him aiming to come to university is clear: stay focused and don’t give up.

“I would suggest to people manage their time and concentrate on their study. Sometimes it’s very panicked. But don’t quit,” he said. 

Keep going and ask people, your friends, your seniors, your teachers and get help because University of Tasmania is very, very helpful and friendly. They are always happy to help students reach their goal.


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