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International exchange to Wellington

Asean Student Voice 2015

ASEAN Student Voice 2015 celebrates 40 years of partnership between New Zealand and ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations).

I was recently nominated by the Faculty of Education at the University of Waikato to attend an event organised by Education New Zealand (ENZ). The event is called Student Voice and it provides the opportunity for international students to network, and for ENZ to hear from the students themselves about their educational experiences in New Zealand. This year’s Student Voice was named ASEAN Student Voice 2015, in celebration of 40 years of partnership between New Zealand and ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations). It was held in Wellington.

At Student Voice I met 29 other international students from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam, as well as 10 Kiwi students who had previously spent some time studying in ASEAN countries. The 40 of us spent two days discussing issues international students face, as well as learning from representatives from government, educational institutions, and private companies.

Collage of an International Student's experience in Wellington

A taste of Student Voice

It was a packed programme, rich with ideas, possibilities, and inspiration. There were practical tips for job search and interview skills, as well as perspectives of what international education means for New Zealand. I was especially inspired by Simon Chu from Otago University, Lester Khoo from AUT, and Jimmy Walsh from Beca. While Simon and Lester shared their personal stories and motivations for building networks with international students, Jimmy spoke about the increasing importance for New Zealand to engage with ASEAN countries.

Despite a full programme, there was time during breaks and meals to interact with the participants. I formed new friendships and also had the opportunity to discuss my PhD research with fellow participants. My research on informal learning practices of international students struck a chord with many and I received insightful comments and encouraging words.

I didn’t have much time for sightseeing but managed to see a good part of the city early Wednesday morning. You can’t beat Wellington on a good day, as the locals say, and I’m blessed to have been in Wellington on a good day. Instead of ducking my head in wild wind, I faced the rising sun along the waterfront, and ambled along the streets as the city came to life.

I left my heart in Wellington. The city reminds me of San Francisco – the waterfront, the hilly landscape, and a vibe that makes the city come alive.

Reflecting on ASEAN Student Voice 2015, I am impressed with New Zealand’s commitment to creating a positive international student experience, and even more impressed with the passion and personal convictions of the speakers. Their common message was about relationships – cultivating meaningful and long-lasting relationships between New Zealand and its ASEAN neighbours.

I now have a renewed vigour for my research, and a clearer vision of how my New Zealand journey can make a difference in the international student experience for my immediate community and beyond. I’m grateful to have had this experience and look forward to many more.

Screen Shot 2015 09 30 at 5.35.33 PM

By Sherrie LeeSingaporean PhD student

Updated 2 years ago

Sherrie is a PhD student and emergent scholar at Waikato University interested in language, literacy and identity. She is a tech-savvy multi-tasker, tea-drinker and mum who is interested in sharing her musings on teaching and research. Visit Sherrie's blog at https://teachersherrie.wordpress.com/

*Views expressed are the blogger's own
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