17 August 2016 at 9:00 am

International students dig deep

On a sunny Saturday in late July, 40 international students helped to plant trees in Halswell Quarry, a beautiful park in the south of Christchurch.

The student volunteers were a mix of high school (Shirley Boys High School, St Bedes College and Riccarton High School) and university students (Ara Institute of Canterbury, Lincoln University and University of Canterbury), said Izzie Guo, Student Experience Coordinator, Canterbury International Education Leadership Accord and Christchurch Educated.

“There was also a great mix of cultures, with students coming from China, India, Japan, Russia, Thailand, Botswana and Zimbabwe, Bolivia, Philippines, Malaysia and New Zealand,” she said.

The students took around two hours to plant 500 native plants, including rushes and sedges.

“The international students learned about native bush, while several locals stopped by to talk to the internationals and learn about the reasons they were in Christchurch, and how they were enjoying studying and living in New Zealand,” Izzie said.

The event was followed by a Kiwi-style BBQ thanks to the Christchurch City Council park ranger involved, Robbie Hewson. It finished with a soccer game, where team China and Japan competed with team Russia and New Zealand.

“After the BBQ, some of the students walked around the Sister City gardens at the quarry – they were very excited to see that the garden was built to signify the relationships between their countries and Christchurch.

”I had a wonderful time!” said Omar Sheta, from Egypt who is studying at Riccarton High School. “I met lovely people from different parts of the world, we volunteered together as one, chatted and played soccer together.

"It was definitely a fun and meaningful experience for all,” said Sigred Yamit, a Filipino who is studying at the University of Canterbury.

“Not only were we able to contribute a bit to the local gardens and community, but we also made new friends. Everyone had a great time and tons of selfies were taken at the end of the day."

This event was supported Christchurch Educated International Student Association and Ara’s student events team.

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