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Homestay mother Faye with some of her international students

A Homestay Mother to Over 60 International Students

Meet Faye Taylor who has hosted more than 60 students from all over the world.

Faye Taylor hosted her first international student in 2002 – a shy, 18-year-old boy from China who only spoke a few words of English.

He ended up staying with Faye (on and off) for six years, in which time he completed a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s and eventually a PhD in media studies at Waikato University in Hamilton, New Zealand. Graduation ceremonies are just one of many milestones Faye and her students celebrate together, as well as weddings and birthdays.

“I’m so proud of him and what he’s accomplished. I went to his wedding, and he said “Mum, I’m sorry to ask you this, but we’re coming back to New Zealand and need a place to stay.

“He moved back into his old room with his wife while they looked for a house to buy. They now live in Hamilton with two children.”

Since 2002, Faye has had more than 60 students stay with her – usually two at a time to fill her spare rooms. They come from all over the world including Japan, Saudi Arabia, India, Sri Lanka, Viet Nam, Indonesia, Chile, Korea and China.

“It’s nice company and a chance to learn about other cultures, including their cuisines and habits. One student came from the Maldives – before that, I didn’t even know where it was on the map.”

For the students too, it’s a chance to learn about New Zealand culture.

“We have a rule in my house where after every meal we play a game of cards, and the losers do the dishes. This has been quite new to some students – I explain to them that in New Zealand, we all take turns to cook and do the dishes.”

One day, a Saudi student brought six of his friends home, to try cooking in Faye’s kitchen.

“They had asked their mothers for recipe suggestions – none of them knew what they were doing but they had the time of their lives!”

In June last year, Faye wanted to bring her students together again to celebrate her 70th birthday. About 30 of her former homestay students turned up, many who had come from across NZ and around the world to surprise her.

“It was great to have a day with them, and a nice chance to connect them with my own kids.

“I saw one of my sons once introduce two of my former Chinese students as “my brothers” – I asked him why he did that, and he said anyone who lives in my home, with my mum, is my brother.”

“That’s what I love – the extended family I’ve gained.”

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Annabella Gamboni Study in New Zealand blog2

By Annabella GamboniCommunications Advisor

Updated 9 months ago

Annabella Gamboni is a member of the communications team at Education New Zealand. At high school, she spent three months in Germany as an exchange student, and later, spent a semester at a UK university.

*Views expressed are the blogger's own

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