20 December 2017 at 9:00 am

Kiwi teachers connect with Indonesia

A group of 11 New Zealand teachers spent 10 days in Indonesia recently as part of the Asia New Zealand Foundation’s (ANZF) Indonesia Cultural Connections Trip to learn more about that country’s peoples and cultures and make connections with their Indonesian counterparts.

Teachers in Indonesia
The teachers at the Borobudur Temple

Sean O’Connor, Educators Network Manager for the Foundation said cultural connection trips give teachers invaluable first-hand experience and knowledge of Asia, which they can in turn share with their students.

“By actually visiting a country, teachers get a much deeper understanding. We also find students are far more engaged when hearing about their teacher’s personal experiences,” he said.

During the trip, the teachers visited schools and historical sites throughout Jakarta and Yogyakarta.

Teacher Ella Hollows from Onerahi School, Whangarei, said the highlight was visiting Al Azhar Islamic schools in Jakarta where she and the other Kiwi teachers home-stayed with local Indonesian families.

“Not only did we experience the culture and history of Indonesia, we got to meet people from different walks of life and developed our understanding of the importance of Asian languages and culture from an education perspective.

“As a teacher, it was a great opportunity to be part of a school in another culture and experience the similarities and the differences,” she said.

Since returning to New Zealand, Ella has been in regular contact with a teacher she met during the visit, and recently held the first of what she hopes will be regular Skype conversations between her class and an Al Azhar class. Students discussed their hobbies and what they like about school, and are beginning to learn about traditional Indonesian and Māori culture.

Ngaire Gow, a teacher at Brookfield School, Tauranga, said before she left for Indonesia, her students created a slideshow about New Zealand which she shared with teachers in Indonesia. On her return, Ngaire created an Indonesia display for the classroom using her photos and souvenirs, prompting discussion and questions from her students.

“Trips like this lead us towards being culturally competent and to respect different ways of understanding and knowing, which is extremely important for teachers in New Zealand as a multi-cultural country with students of various cultures in our classrooms,” she said.

Click here for a short video of what the teachers experienced in Indonesia.

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