News National An explorer and a kind spirit: Aiia Maasarwe remembered

An explorer and a kind spirit: Aiia Maasarwe remembered

Aiia Maarsarwe
Arab-Israeli exchange student Aiia Maarsawe has been remembered as kind, fun, and with a zest for life. Photo: Instagram
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Aiia Maasarwe was a smart young woman intent on living her life without regrets. At he age of 21, the Israeli exchange student had already studied abroad at Shanghai University. Melbourne was her second stop.

She’d been studying Chinese and English at La Trobe University for six months on exchange and intended to use her studies to begin working alongside her father, who operates a business in China.

Her social media accounts reveal her love of exploring: Climbing in the Grampians, sky diving over the Great Ocean Road, and generally enjoying herself as a young woman in a new city.

Ms Maasarwe’s body was discovered at 7am on Wednesday, near a shopping centre in Bundoora, a northern Melbourne suburb. She was seriously assaulted before being killed.

It is believed she was speaking to her sister on the phone when she was attacked after taking the route 86 tram home following a night at a comedy club.

Police are still searching for the perpetrator, and have released images of clothing found near the scene believed to have been worn by her killer during the bloody attack.

Police have released CCTV footage of Aiia Maasarwe on Tuesday night, plus clothing believed to have been worn by her attacker.

In a city still reeling from the killings of young women such as Jill Meagher and Eurydice Dixon, Ms Maasarwe’s murder has added poignancy.

Back home, her death also made headlines.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz spoke to one of Ms Maasarwe’s uncles, who said the killing was the kind of incident “you never expect”.

“She was an excellent student, full of life, and was in a country that was not dangerous at all, to say the least. And despite that, we get this incredibly painful news,” Abed Katane told the news outlet.

Another uncle, Rame Maasarwe, spoke to the media from his home in the US, heartbreakingly revealing her family was due to visit her next week.

The family was shocked to learn such a brutal act had happened to their daughter in Australia, saying they considered the country a “safe place”.

“I can’t believe that something like this has happened in Australia. It’s not safe there in Australia? In Melbourne? It’s not safe?” he said.

“We think America is dangerous, not Australia.”

Classmates have remembered Ms Maasarwe as an excellent student, and above all, a positive person.

In a move similar to the aftermath of the harrowing killing of Eurydice Dixon a vigil has been organised in her memory, to be held in Melbourne on Friday night.

The commemoration will focus around Ms Maasarwe’s favourite flower.

A Facebook event description states: “If you can’t attend the vigil, we encourage you to wait at your nearest 86 tram stop with a candle.”

“Aiia’s uncle has let us know red roses were one of her favourites, but she loved all flowers.”

Floral tributes were laid near where the victim’s body was found. Photo: AAP

Tributes from friends and the general community have already flooded the site where her body was found.

They follow a similar theme: “Everybody deserves to get home safely.”