With the end of Term 1 approaching rapidly, the junior international girls have been reflecting on the challenges and adventures they have experienced so far this year at St Matthew’s. On Thursday 26 March, they invited a group of 20 staff members and students to morning tea in the ESOL Room. Having compiled a guest list and a menu, they wrote and delivered invitations. They wanted to express their sincere appreciation to all those who attended for supporting them in all sorts of ways.
For new ESOL students, information about the routines of Main House and the school day is filtered through a language that they have learned to read and write, but have seldom heard spoken in everyday life, so the understanding and support they receive from staff and students alike is really valued.
As the girls move from the sheltered environment of the ESOL Room into mainstream classrooms, being welcomed into a group can give such a boost to their confidence and help their learning. The great news for the generous students who offer their help is that, not only are they demonstrating the caring values on which we pride ourselves at St Matthew’s, but also reinforcing their own learning. The more you give, the more you get!
When they are able, the international girls give back. Indian-born Eliza Jani grew up in New Caledonia and describes herself as a fluent speaker of ‘Frindi’, (French and Hindi). Having picked up English amazingly quickly last year, she shared her expertise in French with girls in Mr Menard’s classes. This year she is a ‘texpert’, helping teachers solve IT problems. She is the senior ESOL student on the St Matthew’s site and a great role model.
Other challenges faced by the international girls include very unfamiliar experiences, like going on camp or participating in the Year 9 Orientation Day at Rathkeale. Sporting ability and physical fitness are more highly valued in New Zealand than in many other countries and this sometimes puzzles international girls. All three of our girls on the St Matthew’s site this year have worked to overcome issues with swimming. We wish to acknowledge the wonderful work put in by Ms Jane Tiley, HOD of P.E. and Demi McCauley, our lovely tutor from Northern Ireland. They were aided by students Manawanui Stevens, Neve Hancock and Gracie Donaldson. Thanks to a great team effort, the girls can look back on their swimming achievements with pride.
Next term, we are set welcome two more international girls, one from India and one from Thailand. We know we can count on our generous and inclusive staff and students to give them a very warm welcome!