2 March 2018

International students teach Kiwis about the world

“International students open Kiwis to the world, which is important for those that haven’t travelled or experienced life in other communities.” James Hargest College shares the importance of hosting international students.

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The International Friendship Club organises activities and events for international students.

Invercargill’s James Hargest College currently hosts 25 to 30 long-term international students, in addition to several visiting groups throughout the year. College staff have seen the positive difference having international students can make.

Jenny Elder, Deputy Principal and Director of International Students, says the College runs an International Friendship Club, which benefits the wider school community as well as the internationals.

“Properly integrating visiting students into the school community alongside their Kiwi peers is key, and well worth the effort,” Elder said. 

“We find it’s the best way to break down barriers. International students open the eyes of our local students to the world, which is important given a number of our students have not travelled or experienced living in other communities.” 

The International Friendship Club organises social activities and events for international students including ice-skating, skiing, pot luck dinners, quiz nights, picnics, barbeques and movie nights. It also assigns international students with Kiwi “buddies” who help them with schoolwork, show them around and even make welcome gifts and celebrate their birthdays.

"International students have experienced different cultures, giving them perspective our students can learn from."

English teacher Anna McDowall says the international students are also bringing new experiences to the classroom, and has witnessed first-hand how invaluable their perspectives are in a learning environment.

“International students have already experienced different countries and cultures, giving them insights and perspective our students can learn from,” said Anna.

“For example, studying a classic like [George Orwell’s novel] 1984 with a student who has lived under a corrupt government helped Kiwi students to see how surveillance can strip our individuality, and how preserving our freedom is vital.

“We are very fortunate in New Zealand, and that means some of the big ideas in our texts are beyond our students’ comprehension – international students provide the reality of these issues worldwide and help our Kiwi kids to empathise and understand other perspectives, hopefully creating better citizens.

“After all, He aha te mea nui? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.”

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