15 Aug 2016
Home cooking was a top priority when students from Chengdu Technological University (CTU) gave feedback about their homestay experience following a four week programme at Ara Institute of Canterbury, which concluded on 5 August.
While some of the 13 students pined for the familiar, others were delighted with trying traditional Kiwi fare.
"My homestay is very nice, thoughtful and makes very delicious dinner," wrote one student.
"My homestay is very good, the next time I come to New Zealand I even want to live here again. I am very relaxed here, not nervous, and the New Zealand pie she did is very delicious!!!" wrote another.
Others were more pragmatic: "I hope we can have some hot food for breakfast, and if homestay would like to, I hope they can take us out to learn more about the city and country."
"About the lunch, I think I need more rice," was the definitive comment from another student.
The students attended English classes at Ara and a range of activities around Christchurch, of which Clip'n'climb indoor climbing was a stand-out favourite, followed by the Antarctic Centre, Willowbank, the gondola and ice skating. The students, who were on their summer vacation in China, did not seem to mind the chilly temperatures.
Chengdu Technological University enjoy the fresh air at the top of the Christchurch Gondola duirng their recent immersion study trip to Ara.
In fact, many students wished that the exchange had been longer, says Ara tutor Liam Foster who spent afternoon with the group.
The highlight for myself, and many students as well, was definitely going on the gondola. They found the scenery and fresh air incredibly beautiful and novel. They were paired with a Japanese student and had to practice their English, rather than speak Chinese with their classmates. They told me they got the best pictures and had the best experience while at the top of the hill. They especially liked the port at Lyttleton. Ice-skating was also a highlight for them, as I don't think any of them had ever done it before."
Most of the Chinese students were trying activities such as ice skating for the first time.
The immersion approach worked, Liam said.
"The fact that the students were living in English speaking homes, attending classes where only English was spoken, and were undertaking activities where they had to practice their English, meant that their language proficiency improved much quicker than it would have in China. They really relished the time they spent in New Zealand."
The relationship with CTU was established by Aoraki Polytechnic and has been retained following the institute's merger with CPIT to form Ara. The Ara international team visited the university in March this year to further develop ties.
Andy Ge, Ara International Market Sector Manager, said that promoting educational collaborations between education providers in Sichuan and Christchurch benefits students and staff from both regions. "It's for both Chinese and Kiwi students and teachers to share ideas, experience and knowledge between the two regions.
"As the result of this visit, a couple of students from this group expressed strong interests to return back to Ara for long term study in the near future."
Ara programme coordinator Carolyn Shaw added more positive feedback that "at the farewell, a number of students commented that this has been a very memorable trip, one that they would remember forever, and one even commented that he would love to come back one day and bring his children to see this country,"
The CTU visit coincided with a six week visit from two teachers from the Sichuan Conservatory of Musical at Ara. The teachers studied English at Ara with the intention to return next year to pursue the Master of Musical Arts at Ara, offered in conjunction with Wintec. One of the teachers, Chinese jazz pioneer Lv Yan, visited Ara last year to check out Ara Music Art's flexible and individualised teaching style.
Three students from Sichuan Conservatory of Musical will follow their teachers to enrol in this path of studying English language followed by the Bachelor of Musical Arts honours degree and Master of Musical Arts, from later this year.
Both institutions are in the Sichuan (China)-Christchurch (NZ) Alliance organised by Christchurch Educated.