26 September 2018

US delegation delighted by New Zealand biculturalism

A delegation of nine study abroad professionals joined ENZ for a tour of New Zealand tertiary institutes in August, identifying Māori culture as a key part of the international student experience.

Although many of the study abroad advisors were already working with New Zealand partners and sending students to New Zealand, they hadn’t experienced the country themselves.

Prior to the visit, participants listed Māori culture and heritage as one of their top three focuses for the visit to New Zealand institutions.

In Dunedin, the delegation was welcomed onto the Otago Polytechnic campus with a powhiri. In return, the delegation sang “Te Aroha” – after having practised it on the bus ride from their hotel.

The group said this moment, and similar experiences on other New Zealand campuses, was what provided them with a better understanding of New Zealand and the international student experience – even more so than the brochures they received from institutions.

“I was surprised and very impressed to see how Māori culture is so integrated and celebrated around the country. This is unique and a stark contrast to the experience of indigenous cultures in other countries,” said one delegate.

Alanna Dick, ENZ Field Director – North America, said the advisors left with a better understanding of New Zealand, and a drive to help more US students experience it too.

“It was clear to me the visit was a success when one study abroad advisor told me that now they understand the main points of difference between New Zealand and Australia! They now tell their students they would have a unique study experience in New Zealand, especially if they take a course to learn more about the indigenous culture like Kapa Haka or introduction to te Reo Māori.”

The US delegation offered suggestions for New Zealand institutions to consider when hosting international guests:

  • Explain how Māori culture is embedded into curriculum
  • Invite Kiwi students to sit on a student panel or lead campus tours
  • More conversations over kai with faculty, staff and students and less PowerPoint presentations
  • Consider having faculty give a short presentation about their area of research or courses they teach.

The US delegation also attended NZIEC to present a session on US engagement. They shared interesting initiatives and partnership models from their campuses, highlighted the importance of curriculum integration between US and overseas institutions, and shared best practices for outreach to students from diverse or underrepresented backgrounds.

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