Two Whangārei students who are heading to China after receiving an award say they are excited to immerse themselves in the country and culture they've been studying.
Christian Renewal School students Naomi Tattersall and Jared Roke have both received a New Zealand China Study Camp award from the University of Auckland's Confucius Institute for secondary school students studying Chinese.
It means the pair will travel to China in December with a group of more than 30 New Zealand students for a two-week visit where they will be immersed in the culture and have the experience to practise what they have learned, improve their Chinese communication skills, and interact with students from rural Chinese schools.
Tattersall and Roke said when they found out about the award it sounded too good to be true.
"I almost feel a little bit numb because it hasn't sunk in yet. I'll probably realise what I'm doing when I'm on the plane." Tattersall said.
"I am in shock almost. I'm going to China, what?"
Christian Renewal School principal Rodney Lloyd said the school had recognised a need for teaching Mandarin as part of its language curriculum.
Tattersall and Roke both started learning Mandarin in year 7 as it was a compulsory subject until year 9 and decided to continue taking it as year 10s and this year as year 11s.
"I really love learning about new cultures and languages and I just really like Chinese and think it's something worth learning," Tattersall said.
"It will help us later in life with jobs," Roke, who thinks he would like to work in tourism, said.
To qualify for the award students were required to have studied Chinese, and had to have entered a speech competition or passed the level one or higher HSK exam - an international test of Chinese language proficiency.
The students said they didn't know all the details of the trip yet but were excited.
"I'm looking forward to experiencing the country and the culture I've been learning about and to see it for myself. It will probably grow my passion for the language and the learning even more," Tattersall, who has never been on a plane before, said.
Their Chinese teacher Elise Chai, who previously worked as a teacher in Shanghai, said the trip was a huge opportunity for the students.
"It's the first year we applied and we got two students accepted and I'm quite excited about it," she said.