Kiwi schools host students from rural Korea

Issue: Volume 96, Number 19

Posted: 30 October 2017
Reference #: 1H9fk7

Students at 25 secondary schools in Canterbury, Waikato and Nelson-Marlborough welcomed small groups of rural Korean students earlier this year.

Schools International Education Business Association (SIEBA) worked with local schools to deliver the programme  on behalf of Education New Zealand.

“It was a wonderful opportunity for the students to learn from each other,” says John van der Zwan, executive director of SIEBA. 

“The Korean students came from rural or fishing backgrounds, and so they were really interested to experience studying and living here. 

“For the New Zealand students, having international visitors come to their school was a chance to learn about another culture, and to understand other perspectives.  These skills are important for future work opportunities, and Korea is also a major export market for New Zealand.” 

Set up as part of the New Zealand-Korea Free Trade Agreement, the programme sees 150 students from rural regions of Korea come to school in New Zealand for eight weeks. 2017 is the second year of the three-year programme, which is jointly funded by both governments, and the students returned home in September.

‘Annyeong haseyo’ Geraldine High School

Geraldine High School hosted five year 11 students this year who studied a range of subjects, including outdoor education. 

The visitors gave a presentation to year 7 students about life in Korea and taught them some simple phrases like ‘Annyeong haseyo’ (hello) and ‘jal ga’ (goodbye).    

“In such a short space of time, the year 7 students seemed to learn and retain quite a lot of information about Korean culture and language. It’s great for them to be exposed to different cultures, particularly when they are here at school,” says class teacher Stuart Wilcox.

The Kiwi students noticed many differences, such as how much longer a school day is in Korea, and the different food. Here are some comments from the Korean students about their stay:

“I enjoyed school life. For example, I always talk with my friends and I wanted to learn more and more things like cultures, English and subjects.”

“I did many things I [had] never done in Korea. Such as ball party [school ball], Hanmer Springs trip and subject Outdoor Education.”

“Eating meal, taking a walk, going to trip etc. Everything was very good to me so everything is the best.”

Best thing: “Speak English a lot.”

Worst thing: “Make my own lunchbox myself.”

A ‘fairly typical’ Kiwi experience

At Waihi College, six Korean students joined year 10 classes and made lots of friends. 

Deputy Principal Justin Harper says most students at Waihi College have seven years of a ‘fairly typical’ New Zealand schooling experience. 

“The rural location of our school, away from the larger centres, means our students can be described as ‘country kids’,” he says. “Welcoming exchange students from another country gives our students a new perspective on New Zealand’s place in the world. It also shows them there’s a world of possibilities over the horizon.” 

Like most international students, the Korean students who attended Waihi College took a few days to find their feet and gain confidence within the school and wider community.

“Once they felt comfortable, they interacted well with our Kiwi students, forging strong friendships and trying many new things,” says Justin.

As part of their studies, the Korean students attended classes at the farm unit each week. The school put on a special programme for the students so they would gain an overview of agriculture in New Zealand. They also worked alongside Kiwi students who were preparing for the school’s Calf Day, including feeding, brushing and grooming the animals for show. 

Justin says that the students’ host families also benefited from the chance to experience a different language and culture, as well as getting to know the students. 

Buddies at Mount Hutt College

Mount Hutt College hosted five year 10 students, and arranged buddies for them. The Kiwi buddies showed the Korean students around the school when they first arrived, sat next to them in class, looked after them and made sure they understood everything. 

“It was really exciting for us to host these students, since we’re a relatively small, rural secondary school,” says Deputy Principal Kristine Canham. 

“Diversity is a core value at our school, and this was a great opportunity for our students to experience diversity in practice, as well as developing their international capability.

“The students enjoyed finding out about life in Korea, and hearing from another young person about how they live. They learned a lot from acting as hosts, noticing the visitors’ reactions and what they said. It meant taking a fresh look at some of the things we often take for granted.” 

The Korean students attended a range of classes, including the year 10 agriculture programme. The topic was agricultural production in New Zealand, so it was particularly relevant for the Korean students. They were due to write an essay comparing
New Zealand and Korean agricultural systems when they got home.   

The wider school community also had a chance to learn about Korea and Korean culture when the students put together a display and made a presentation to the junior school assembly.

SIEBA is the peak body for New Zealand schools supporting international students in the education sector. Formed in 2015, SIEBA has 290 member schools across the country. 

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 9:00 am, 30 October 2017

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