Just over the road from Napier Public Library, the international students at New Horizon College of English are a diverse bunch.

The school this year has had students from Tahiti, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Russia, China, Switzerland, Germany, Thailand, Brazil and Spain.

Students at New Horizon learn communicatively, in small classes of six to 12 students, according to their level.

Morning lessons focus on English reading and writing skills and have more emphasis on grammar than afternoon classes, where the focus is more on speaking and listening strategies.


Understanding Kiwi culture is also a regular course component.

The students in tutor Paul Lishman's class come for reasons as diverse as their backgrounds.

Seungho Song from South Korea has come back to Napier for the first time in 15 years. He's eager to show his wife and son the city where he spent a life-changing year in 2001.

"I want my family's connection with Napier to continue in the future," he says. "I hope to come again to visit my homestay mother, who has become like a real mother. Hopefully my children will have the experience of studying English here one day, too."

Uruata Barsinas, from Tahiti, is working towards an IELTS (English Proficiency Exam) grade to gain entry to Victoria University next year.

Shinya Hamada, from Auckland's Japanese sister city Fukuoka, is taking a year to improve his English, with the ambition becoming a teacher of Japanese to foreigners.

Inspired by the movie Finding Dory, Disney fan Yumi Tokuyasu has come from Nara in Japan to Napier with a simple task in mind, "Finding Yumi".

"I feel as though by being here I've just taken the first step on my voyage towards a new me."

With his now advanced level of English, Sungu Kim aims to get a better job with an international company when he returns to South Korea.

Similarly, Keiko Ochi has recently escaped from her extremely busy life as a vet in Japan to improve her English and open up new career options.

Yuki Yasumoto is weighing up whether being a flight attendant or a police officer would be a better use of her English ability when she takes her newfound English skills back to Japan.

The letters on this page started as a class assignment to write a letter of suggestion, complaint or gratitude to the editor.