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The school has been participating in the Global Youth Ambassador Programme, which is run through One World Education.
The programme has involved after school lessons with three schools in the province of Chengdu in China via Zoom, with the Kaiapoi students teaching aspects of New Zealand and Maori culture and learning about China.
“Before Covid we were hosting international students from South Korea and China, so we wanted to keep that connection,” deputy principal Dawn Anderson says.
Kaiapoi North School first joined the programme last year as the first New Zealand school to participate.
Three Kaiapoi students took a lesson as a one-off and it was so successful it was decided to continue with the programme this year, with 12 pupils involved, teacher Hamish Dale says.
“They had some guidance from Dawn and I, but the students took the lessons and the Chinese went running it’.
“They thought it was so cool to have the students running the lessons, so now their students are doing it too.”
Because the Chinese schools were so keen to connect with Kaiapoi, they ended up doing three lessons over three days online between 3pm and 4pm, engaging with 150 Chinese children.
After the lessons, 10 minutes is set aside for the children to ask each other questions about life in their respective countries.
“They can’t believe that our children can go home and play sport after school, because they have a very long school day,” Dawn says. “They’re used to doing things in confined spaces so they’re fascinated by our students having such wide open spaces to play in.”
She says the programme offers “a unique opportunity for our children because they want to be globally connected”.
Alex Houghton (11) and Zanzi Coleman (12) have been involved in the programme and have enjoyed connecting with overseas students.
“We’ve been teaching some of our New Zealand culture,” Zanzi says
“We taught them kapa haka and they were really good, and their dance was amazing as well,” Alex adds.
The pair have learned different ways of drawing, as well as Chinese games and dance. Zanzi says being involved has improved her social skills, while Alex has enjoyed learning about another culture.
The pair are keen to visit China one day and look forward to hosting Chinese students at the school, now that the border is opening up again.
One World Education consultant Mary McRostie visited Kaiapoi North School on Friday to present the children with their badges for participating in the Global Youth Ambassador Programme.