Throughout the year, we have seen our international students developing their knowledge and skills, and having accomplished their learning achievement. At the prize giving, we especially acknowledged the following fantastic winners by awarding the 2019 special prizes.
- Zining (Sherry) Huang from China – International Students’ Award for all-round Application and Achievement
- Hoang Quan (Jason) Vu from Vietnam – Special International Student Award for a full and positive contribution to all aspects of the learning environment
- Lea Schoenhuber from Germany – Western Springs College International Kiwi Award
- Wei (Wayne) Zhuang from China – 2019 International Visual Art Award
Below is a speech delivered at the Atea Assembly by Zining (Sherry) Huang, one of the special award winners. This is a growth story as an international student at Western Springs College and represents one of the many success stories.
Kia ora, 大家好，konijiwa, nioaseiyo, 萨瓦迪卡, Bonjuhe, Ola, sorry guys I only know these ways to say hello. I’m Sherry from China, and I’m lucky enough to be invited to represent international leavers to give a speech here. I’ve been in New Zealand for 2 and a half years. Not a very long time, but in these years, I did change a lot.
Walking out of my parents’ comprehensive protection, I became more independent. I learned from practice to live without them, my emotional anchors, and deal with everything by myself. Homesickness sometimes grows into the idea to come back, but I never thought of giving up study here because it was my choice to study here.
I was not a very outgoing person, and this problem was magnified after I came to New Zealand. Everything started from 0 to me in here, meaning if I don’t step out to have a conversation, I won’t have any friends. I once thought human beings can definitely live without friends. It turned out that it’s theoretically true, but emotionally wrong. I feel like a ghost in the school, no one really knows me, so no one says hi to me, no one really cares about me, but everyone is accompanied by friends, just me, alone, knew nowhere to go, no one to eat lunch with.
I urge to change.
So I started from beginning a conversation in Chinese to joining group discussion in English, through classes to clubs. I still remember the excitement of talking in Shanghai Dialect with my friend Adriana when we first found out we both from Shanghai. I still remember when I first joined Travelwise and only said one sentence in the group discussion. I still remember the first time I spoke out my thoughts in group discussion and the appreciation on group members’ faces.
I knew the word of comfort zone later, and then I knew that I kept breaking my comfort zone time after time. I joined the leadership election and then became a travelwise leader. Mixed feelings of excitement and worries fulfilled my mind. I was afraid my English is not good enough to hold a meeting and organize events with a group of native speakers. I started with cueing what we need to discuss and what information we have. I appreciate my friend Isabella a lot, she is also travel wise leader, and she takes most charge of the explaining part and leads the discussion during meetings. With her help and my endeavor to practice speaking, my ability to hold meetings like a real leader increases.
I kept thinking about what stop me from chatting with kiwis at the beginning. I believe it’s because of my worries about others’ opinions on my Chinese accent and the use of wrong words. But after time I released myself from these worries. English is my second language, it’s a very normal thing to speak it not as good as native students do. I can read, listen, speak, and write in English is already a good job.
Another reason is because of confidence. With the encouragement of teachers and the respect of students, I became more confident and courageous to chase what I think is right. In China, sharing thoughts and feelings is mostly the least important during classes as it is a general belief that students only need to focus on study and listen to what teachers said. Gradually we became afraid of sharing ideas because we are afraid of being wrong. Unconfidence is a normal phenomenon among Chinese students.
With all factors, what most Chinese students do once find out social problems is to send posts to write their feelings, and that’s it, no actions, because we don’t believe students can make any differences.
However, people around me in New Zealand use their actions to show that I was wrong, and students can make changes under the rule of adults. Inefficient road design creates a high risk of being hit, so students make petition to build a new crossing; climate change is a huge problem that is ignored, so students organize strikes to draw attention. Students do have power; students do speak out their voice; students do change the world.
The experience of moving and living in a different country really enrich my knowledge and deepen my ways of thinking. I appreciated my choice to come to New Zealand and be a member of Western Springs College, and I appreciated teachers, classmates, and friends I met here.
I appreciate a lot to be invited to share my experiences, and I appreciated you guys to listen to my stories. I hope my story can help local students know more about what is like to be international students, and I hope my story can give international students ideas to enjoy life in Western Springs. 谢谢。Thank you.
We also acknowledged and celebrated the success of our leavers by hosting a farewell dinner at a local Chinese restaurant. We shared and enjoyed their last moment as a Western Springs international student over a delicious meal. We wish them all the best on their future endeavours.
While our junior and senior students are busy with exams and preparing for exams, our new Term 3 and 4 students are continuing on their special programme. They have been developing their English and Maths skills intensively to get ready for joining the mainstream course next year as well as exploring Auckland through class trips. They had a lovely day at Devonport led by Ms Olivier and other teachers. They enjoyed the ferry ride, walking up Victoria Mountain and having Fish’n Chips for lunch on the beach.