Overseas students connect

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International students create opportunities for local schools.
Sue Anderson retired last week as International Director at Rangiora High School (RHS) after 26 years in the industry and says overseas students bring more than just money to the local community, as it exposes local students to different cultures.
‘‘This industry is the 5th biggest export in New Zealand and the Government would like to increase it by 200% by 2025. That would mean 200 (international students) in Rangiora and with the expansion at the school we possibly could manage it.
‘‘This is one of the best jobs in the world and everybody wins – the students, the school and the Government wins because it’s an export. The homestay wins and the community wins.’’
‘‘They go home and they love New Zealand, so it is a foreign aid thing and they want to come back.’’
Mrs Anderson says the challenge of growing the number international students would be finding enough homestays. Host families are paid $250 a week, but there is strict criteria including being able to provide the international student with their own bedroom.
‘‘We would almost need to put in a boarding hostel, but most students don’t want to go into a boarding hostel, because their homestays take them places and they want that connection of being in a family.
‘‘Some Asian children are the only child in a family living in an apartment block.’’
Back in 1990 there was a law change, opening the door to schools to attract international students. Mrs Anderson was working as an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) teacher at Aranui High School, in Christchurch, when her principal asked her if she would like to go to Asia to do some recruiting.
She has been at RHS for the last 10 years.
‘‘The job is not just marketing, but also pastoral care of the students and making sure lots of people are happy – families, agents and teachers in the school, as well as the students. It’s about relationships.’’
Melissa Heyrick took over as RHS’s International Director last week having previously filled a similar role at Cobham Intermediate School in Christchurch.
‘‘I have one child and I feel he’s so enriched by my job because he’s often at the airport to meet the students and he comes to Adrenaline Forest and other activities the students do.
‘‘The world is becoming global and it’s so important for our children to have that cultural understanding. The future is changing and we are going to have to go into the workforce and work with people from other countries.’’