16 November 2023 at 11:00 am

AUT international students connect with senior citizens

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International students enjoyed learning about local New Zealand culture from senior citizens in Auckland.

 A uniquely engaging initiative supported by New Zealand Police and AUT recently brought together international students and local senior citizens to connect in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. 

The initiative was an outcome of a meeting of the Auckland Agency Group, of which Education New Zealand Manapou ki te Ao is a member and enabled international students to understand and start to integrate into local culture guided by senior residents and members of the wider Auckland community. 

As the last 12 months have seen the welcome return of international students to our campuses and communities, New Zealand Police Ethnic Services teams around the country, including in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, have been busy engaging with international students in a number of ways.   

Around 18 students met with 10 senior citizens at the Northbridge Residential Village 

The event helped international students engage with their local community, establishing intergenerational bonds, helped them access support networks, engage in cultural exchange, and actively participating in community affairs.  

The event included a panel discussion involving members of Northbridge Residential Village, AUT international students, and New Zealand Police. The panel discussion unfolded in two key segments: the initial part addressed the dynamics of culture shock, while the subsequent portion revolved around the overarching themes of diversity and inclusion. 

AUT Students Association, International Affairs Officer, Yun Ke, said that the AUT international student interaction with local senior citizens event was a great success 

We have received immensely positive feedback from students about the event, which is exciting  

This interaction saw double the participation by international students, as compared to a previously held event in September, Ke said.  

San Winkyi, an international student from Myanmar, was grateful to New Zealand Police for the way they supported the event.  

The police’s presence and assistance contributed significantly to the event's success, and we deeply appreciate their commitment to international student safety and wellbeing,” San said.  

For Huabiao Xiao, an international student from China, the interaction was a wonderful opportunity to appreciate cultural differences while enjoying communicating with an open and inclusive local community of senior citizens.  

Spending time with local seniors and police officers was an amazing experience, far beyond anything I could have imagined. These elders are simply the epitome of local cultures and society, and I deeply appreciate their differences and uniqueness. At the same time, I appreciated how New Zealand police officers are committed to promoting a community culture,” Huabiao said.   

Education providers with international students who are interested in organising a similar event are welcome to contact Faymie Li, faymieli@enz.govt.nz or Ross Crosson, ross.crosson@enz.govt.nz  

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