Otago University Students Teach Local School Children About Asian Culture

Otago University Students Teach Local School Children About Asian Culture making it a “truly International Educational Institution”.

The Centres of Asia-Pacific Excellence has been running its Building Global Communities workshops in primary and intermediate school around Dunedin as part of an overall effort to teach children about other cultures.

The result has been a welcome and enjoyable departure from the children’s regular lessons. At the same time, they learn about languages and cultures from the likes of Latin America, Southeast Asia, and North Asia.

Upon their visit to Liberton Christian School in Dunedin, the students were delighted to learn how to use chopsticks, try on traditional Chinese clothing, fold Thai paper sculptures, and even make their own Samurai helmets out of newspaper.

The flipside of educating the children about other cultures is that international students studying at Otago University both get to share their culture with others, all while improving their English skills.

Ning Wang is one of those students, who is in her first year in New Zealand after arriving from China and joined the programme to improve her English. She reiterates that second benefit,

“The fun part is the kids asking questions about traditional Chinese clothing. It makes me feel like they really appreciate my culture.”

Jutamas Kee, an international student from Thailand, found the programme had a further benefit saying she was looking to add volunteer hours to her own study programme. Her contribution to the children was to teach them how to make beautiful Thai paper designs.

“I like to share my culture with these kids. I like to fold. The students can show their opinions and how they’re curious.”

Glenys Needs, who is the manager for the programme for the three Centres of Asia-Pacific Excellence says she has noticed a genuine improvement in the understanding of different cultures and looks forward to more of the same this year.

It’s programmes like this that beyond serving their own goals go to show that Otago University is truly an international educational institution, and has developed a rich scene of multiculturalism that is becoming embraced more and more by the local society of Otago itself.


Ulrich Lange, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, Clocktower Building – Image Under CCL

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