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Taranaki Students Graduate and become Global Citizens amongst Pandemic

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Taranaki students from Hāwera High School, Francis Douglas Memorial College, and Spotswood College have completed Education New Zealand’s Global Competence Certificate (NZGCC) and will have an online graduation with students from Thailand and Vietnam this Saturday.

The NZGCC is a research-backed certification which teaches cultural self-awareness, empathy for other cultures, and ways to connect in multicultural settings. The course which comprises 18 online modules and four live and facilitated dialogue sessions, over a four week period, is facilitated by Massey University tutors.

The NZGCC, originally designed by AFS Intercultural Programs, aims to develop active global citizens and empower young people from all backgrounds with essential global skills and instil a passion to make a difference.

"Venture Taranaki is proud to have supported 15 students across three differing high schools to complete this certificate. The future of work is becoming increasingly multi-cultural and global; having cultural competency skills will be important for our young people as they enter the workforce," says Vicki Fairley, Venture Taranaki General Manager, People and Place.

Over the four weeks students covered topics such as stereotypes, empathy, dealing with conflict, and resilience. Local students also engaged and connected with students from Thailand and Vietnam through online discussion fourms and live discussion groups.

Catherine Reilly-Leadbetter a year 10 student at Spotswood College is set to graduate this weekend and has gained a lot from the course.

"My teacher told me about it, and it sounded exciting to learn about different cultures, so I signed up. We learnt a whole range of skills for interacting and communicating with people from other cultures. My favourite modules were 'withholding judgement' and 'communication styles' because I learnt a lot about how what you say can be interpreted differently to how you meant it and how to hold back from making assumptions when meeting people which I think is an important skill," explains Catherine.

This is the first year Taranaki students have been involved. And although the three countries involved have been in lockdown they have worked through the programme and have managed to have a meaningful experience.

"I made a few new friends, Clarence, from New Zealand, although living in the same country, had a completely different experience and we were able to connect and talk about current events happening here. I also made a few friends from Vietnam and Thailand, one of the girls talked to me about her parents and how the government system works there, and I found it really interesting," continues Catherine.

"I would definitely recommend this to others, the skills I learnt in the course have massively changed my perspective and allowed me to be more open minded, empathetic, and kind to others."

Catherine shared her thoughts and learnings with her wider whānau, which they expressed have resulted in valuable discussions, and really challenged the tauira (students) to think beyond their usual experiences.

"While navigating the challenges of lockdowns, it's fantastic these students were still able to make global connections, challenge their pre-existing perceptions, and gain valuable skills they can put into action right away while also setting themselves up for the future. The core elements of the course are also of course applicable to any situation, in terms of how we communicate and interact with our diverse society," continues Vicki.

"Educating more young people to become global citizens is crucial if we want to create a more just and peaceful world. At AFS we are committed to ensuring that everyone has access to intercultural learning where learners gain skills such as cross-cultural communication, empathy, and conflict resolution to learn how to effectively bridge differences. New Zealand is truly demonstrating their commitment to global engagement to help prepare the next generation of global citizens," says Daniel Obst, President and CEO of AFS Intercultural Programs.

"Research conducted by Education New Zealand (ENZ) shows that enterprises in New Zealand who employed staff with cross-cultural competencies found this contributed to a more energising workplace, which helped to foster creativity and innovation. We are sure our Taranaki students will go forth and use their newly gained knowledge to better their whānau, community, Aotearoa and beyond," concludes Vicki.

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