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Te Puke Times - 2021-11-25

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Pupils tap into cyberspace

FRONT PAGE

Carmen Hall

Only 12 international students remain at Te Puke High School compared with about 65 pre-covid, but that has not stopped its students from fostering global connections. A group of teenagers have just spent five weeks corresponding with their peers in Vietnam over cyberspace. The virtual experience is part of a Global Competence Certificate funded by Education New Zealand and designed to provide students with skills to prepare them to thrive in a more diverse and interconnected world. Some of its core concepts included developing cultural self-awareness, empathy for other cultures, emotional resilience and ways to build bridges in multicultural settings. Te Puke High School international student director Cathi Fourie says international students brought vibrancy to the school campus. “Many of our students do not have the opportunity to travel abroad and international students offer a way of bringing the world into our classrooms. “Our school vision is to inspire our students to realise their potential through being future-focused lifelong learners with a strong sense of identity. “Offering our students a platform to interact virtually with other students has been invaluable.” In August, Education New Zealand chief executive Grant Mcpherson said it was its intention to provide an alternative to the international school exchange experience while borders were closed. New Zealand high school students are developing global competence skills alongside students worldwide, enabling them to study and work across borders and cultures and boost their job prospects with the NZGC certificate, he says. Following a successful pilot scheme, ENZ was funding a further $380,000 to subsidise the cost for 321 New Zealand and 486 international learners. It was hoped they would develop cultural self-awareness, empathy for other cultures, emotional resilience and ways to build bridges in multicultural settings. The 18 online modules cover topics such as stereotypes, empathy, dealing with conflict and resilience. “The programme’s expansion is a key part of diversifying. As well as helping to develop the global citizens of tomorrow, this programme demonstrates the reciprocal benefits of international education. It gives our rangatahi a chance to learn with high school students from around the world, and giving their offshore peers a chance to learn ‘with’ New Zealand and our unique way of thinking.” Students on why they joined programme ■ Juliet King: ”I want to expand my knowledge about other countries, cultures and religions. This experience has helped me come to terms with the fact that people from other places are so different from us [different values, beliefs, and traditions], yet we now know, or are more experienced in understanding one another despite these visible and invisible differences.” ■ Ella Daniel: “I am very interested in cultural activities and opportunities. I have so many new perspectives on other peoples’

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