Supporting international students to succeed
Chinese student Jiashu Yang is on a mission to help other students enjoy studying in New Zealand as much as he has.
“Some students are shy and they don’t know anyone when they arrive here, so it helps if they can make new friends, learn new things and realise that they don’t need to be afraid,” he says.
Jiashu is part of a team of international student ambassadors in Christchurch. The ambassadors welcome students when they arrive at the airport, answer questions and run events ranging from games evenings to dumpling-making classes.
He is also heavily involved in promoting student welfare on social media and is a member of Operation Friendship, which connects Kiwi families with international students.
Jiashu arrived in New Zealand three years ago. He studied English in Queenstown, passing his IELTS test with the score of 6.5, and then took a foundation studies course to prepare for tertiary study.
In 2016, Jiashu started studying for a Bachelor of Commerce in Management and Marketing at the University of Canterbury.
“I didn’t feel homesick when I arrived in New Zealand because there were lots of international students studying together with me. It is easy to make friends,” he says.
“But I know some students take longer to adjust to living in New Zealand, so I wanted to do what I could to help them.”
International students have a huge range of sports, social and cultural groups to choose from, which Jiashu believes is a great way to meet people and feel at home.
He’s learning the traditional Chinese lion dance, in preparation for the next Christchurch Lantern Festival and the city’s 2018 new student welcome event.
Jiashu is an enthusiastic member of the popular Canterbury Malaysian Students’ Association, which welcomes students from all cultures. Its annual music theatre event is one of the largest events for international students.
He has joined two Chinese youth groups that hold regular events throughout the year, such as ski trips, talent shows and barbecues. Group members also hand out snacks to students who are studying for exams.
Jiashu recently won two return tickets to China in an Education New Zealand WeChat competition to encourage students studying here to tell others about the benefits of a New Zealand education.
“I really enjoy learning here. I’ve learned many new things during my study at the university, and have had help from the Academic Skills Centre when I do my assignments,” says Jiashu.
I get more free time in New Zealand to do what I want to to do. I’ve become more independent, I’ve improved my English and I’ve made lots of new friends.
“My advice to other international student is to take all the opportunities you get and don’t be afraid – you’ll get there in the end!”
About the contributors
Linley Boniface is a contract writer for Education New Zealand. She is based in Wellington, her favourite city in New Zealand. A former journalist, Linley spent a year in Montreal, Canada, as a secondary school student.