23 February 2018
Palmerston North goes international
Five years ago, Freyberg High School set its sights on welcoming 100 students from 10 countries. With 60 international students currently calling it home, the school is well on its way to achieving that goal.
Peter Brooks, Principal of Freyberg High School, sees value for both international students and locals who have the opportunity to mix with people from around the world.
“International students add another dimension to our school and the wider community. It encourages inclusiveness – something that is so important given what’s going in the world at the moment,” said Mr Brooks.
“We hope to show that New Zealand and New Zealanders are different.”
Freyberg’s international students come from China, Viet Nam, Korea, India, Chile, Thailand, Switzerland, Japan, Brazil and Germany. The school runs dozens of events throughout the year to give them a taste of the Kiwi lifestyle, and to help them feel welcome in their new environment.
“International students add another dimension to our school and the wider community."
In a first for the school, the 2016 dux prize was awarded to an international student from China. Mr Brooks said watching her journey having limited English to being named dux was a highlight for the school.
“We surprised her by secretly inviting her mother to the ceremony, all the way from China, to present her with flowers on stage. That brought the whole house down,” said Mr Brooks.
Building on Freyberg’s ‘sister school’ relationships is also an area of focus for the school. In recent years, the school has sent groups of students to Thailand, Viet Nam and China.
“Putting our students in the shoes of their international peers astounded them – classroom hours are different, expectations are different. It really opened their eyes,” said Mr Brooks.