9 March 2018
International student boarders in Wanganui
Wanganui Collegiate School (WCS) welcomes nearly 65 international students each year. As a boarding school, the students live alongside Kiwis in one of the school’s six boarding houses – a mix of teenagers of different ages and nationalities.
Rosie Austin, WCS Associate Director of International Students, says this arrangement means international students don’t just form friendships, they form families.
“If you talk to ex-Collegiate students, the question isn’t ‘who are your friends?’ but ‘which house were you in?’” says Rosie.
“At Collegiate, your boarding house is your family, and the relationships that are formed here last a lifetime.”
Rosie says spending time with international students helps local students develop cultural literacy, something she believes will prove extremely valuable for them.
“Living with people from different backgrounds teaches Kiwi students to help other people adapt, and to respect cultural differences.
“These skills are only going to become more important – for university, in their working lives, travel, and in their future communities” says Rosie.
To help students form bonds and integrate into the school community, Collegiate runs an inter-house competition throughout the year, with all students competing in a range of events including swimming sports, athletics day, music competitions, debating, tug-of-war and tikanga. The International Committee also organise an annual beach day, a trip to Wellington and other day trips.
One of the highlights each year, as part of the school special character, is the international chapel service organised by the students and features every language represented in the school community.
"Living with people from different backgrounds teaches Kiwi students to help other people adapt, and to respect cultural differences."
Extra-curricular activities are popular with international students. A Japanese student is currently the current Head of Tennis, and Collegiate’s swimming captain is a Hong Kong national. Rosie says they also contribute enormously to Collegiate’s music department. A current student from Taiwan is a School Blueshirt (prefect) and Head of Music.
“As members of the school choir, youth orchestra and jazz band, international students are often out and about performing for the local community. Some are playing in the Wanganui Orchestra.”
Rosie says when international students complete their education, it is always an emotional time.
“It is hard for international students to say goodbye to their Collegiate family. Seeing how close they have become to New Zealand students is one of the highlights of the job.”