13 September 2017

International students help Kiwi kids become ‘Asia-ready’

Asia New Zealand Foundation executive director Simon Draper is keen to enhance Asian international students’ social experience through helping young Kiwis to become more ‘Asia-ready’.

AsiaNZ Foundation report

The Foundation’s recent report, Losing Momentum – School Leavers’ Asia Engagement, shows that fewer than 10 percent of senior secondary school students are ‘Asia-ready,’ and more than half said they are not confident to engage with Asians, even in New Zealand.

Mr Draper says one solution may be to put in place a system where international students from Asia can engage with Kiwi students in a planned and structured way. 

In the International Student Experience report by Study Auckland and ENZ, one of the challenges highlighted was international students’ lack of engagement with New Zealand students. International students said cross-cultural connection would make their experience more satisfying and enjoyable, particularly through structured events and organised socialising.

“They want opportunities to engage with New Zealanders and we want that as well for our young people – so let’s engage them in ways that would benefit both them and their Kiwi peers,” says Mr Draper.

“I can’t think of a better way to improve New Zealand students’ confidence to engage with Asian cultures than to have their Asian mates share their cultures with them.”  

The Foundation holds ‘Experience Asia’ events in schools across the country where international students teach local students about their culture, such as how to make dumplings, how to play a traditional Asian musical instrument, or teaching martial arts.

Mr Draper says New Zealand school leavers’ lack of confidence in engaging with Asian peoples and cultures is concerning given that New Zealand’s present and future – economically, culturally and socially – are tied to Asia.

“All indicators show that Asia will play a critical role in young New Zealanders’ careers, their personal relationships, and their life experiences. Developing Asia-related competencies will be a necessity for their future,” he says.

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