17 August 2016 at 9:00 am
A school trip from Tauranga to Yantai
A group of seven Year eight students from Tauranga Intermediate School travelled to China in April as part of a mayoral delegation to Tauranga’s sister city, Yantai, in the south of China.
The group travelled with support from Education New Zealand’s (ENZ) New Zealand China Sister Schools Fund.
Deputy Principal, Kathy Colville, who accompanied the students along with International Student Coordinator, Annemieke Hart, said “very strong bonds were established”.
“Our students met many challenges,” she said, but “they rose to the occasion and took everything in their stride.”
The students attended school and stayed with local families. An exhibition of Tauranga photos was held as part of the sister city celebrations, and the group enjoyed giving their hosts an insight into Tauranga life. The group also spent a day in Shanghai.
Kathy said the students – all of whom learn Mandarin at school – were carefully chosen.
“It was an extremely difficult task but we chose some that had travelled with us [overseas before]. We knew that we could rely on these students to be great ambassadors of our school, city and country.”
There were lots of differences at school in Yantai, the principal one being the long school hours. The school day starts at 7.15am and ends at 5.30pm in China, with students then staying up till 11pm to complete homework.
“The long school hours were a bit daunting,” said Riley Bartosh.
The students also enjoyed learning calligraphy, and doing physical exercise Chinese-style – always carried out in groups.
The students said the experience had made them more independent and opened up their minds to further travel in the future.
“Now I’m more open to different cultures and how others live,” says Riley Bartosh.
“I am interested in pursuing a career that involves communication with other countries. China has opened up opportunities that would never have been available otherwise,” says Stephanie Austin.
“I’ve been on school trips to Portugal, Amsterdam and Turkey since I’ve been at this school,” says Ngawaka Ririnui. “It’s inspired me to travel more and experience how others live.”
“I am going to continue learning Mandarin at our school so that I can speak three languages – English, Maori and Mandarin,” says Te Wairere Te Moana.
Annemieke said Tauranga Intermediate School has offered biannual overseas school trips to its students since 2000. The school reinvests some of the revenue it receives from international students to fund these trips.
She said that in Term three, a group from Yantai Number two Middle School was making a reciprocal visit to Tauranga.