A group of University Otago international students spent time teaching their host country’s children about their culture last week.
Volunteers from the University who originated from Mexico, Japan, Burma, Peru, Panama, Vietnam and the Philippines, ran cultural workshops with the pupils at Dunedin North Intermediate.
The workshops were designed to give school students an interactive and engaging opportunity to learn more about the languages and cultures of three Asia-Pacific regions – Latin America, Southeast Asia and North Asia – by harnessing the volunteers’ unique cultural understanding and personal experiences in those areas.
It was the first step in a pilot project being run by the University of Otago’s Volunteer Centre, and is one initiative the University of Otago has planned as part of its involvement in a government-funded initiative, the Centres of Asia-Pacific Excellence (CAPEs).
The overall objective of the CAPEs is to enhance New Zealand’s economic, trade, political, and cultural relationships with North Asia, Southeast Asia and Latin America. The University of Otago is a consortium member, along with Victoria University of Wellington, the University of Waikato, and the University of Auckland.
The volunteers said they hoped the pupils would get to experience different ways of thinking and culture through the language and craft activities they designed.
Afterwards, they said they loved the engagement of the children in the activities, and found that while they had volunteered to promote their individual cultures to the children, they themselves had learned about the cultures of the other volunteers.