Students get taste of Kiwi culture

By Ilona Hanne

Mel Cook of the Inglewood Rotary club took five foreign exchange students to Stratford High School for a morning tour and visit as part of their weeklong visit to the Taranaki region, organised and hosted by members of the Inglewood Rotary club.

Mel says that "at any one time Rotary has around 800 students on exchange visits around the world" and that the Inglewood branch is always looking to sponsor students interested in an exchange.

Mel and his family have hosted exchange students in the past, and one of the current students, Tommy, who is from Ecuador, is staying with them. Tommy's family have a history with Mel's, as Tommy's elder brother also stayed with them during his exchange visit.

The students enjoyed their visit to the high school and say that they had noticed some differences in their home cultures to life here. Coralie, from France, says that the school day is much shorter in New Zealand and as a result she thinks students "see their friends more during the week than we can in France".

Sofia, from Denver in the USA, says that there is a lot of drinking in New Zealand compared to back home. "We would get in a lot more trouble for drinking, we would be turned down by university for it which isn't the same here."

Ecuadorian Tommy says that he comes from a city with a population of over 500,000 and therefore living in a town the size of Inglewood has been a big change. "It is nice in a small place," he adds.

Heloise, from Belgium, says that she has enjoyed her time in New Zealand, admitting that she knew very little about the country before. "All I knew of it was rugby and earthquakes," she says, "now I know there is more to do and see here and I like it."

- Stratford Press

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