Three Northland students who will be going on overseas exchanges next year say they are excited to become immersed in other cultures and hope it will help with their future aspirations.
While other students will be heading to university next year, Te Kapehu Whetu students Aotea Parata, Grace Barry and Hineira Komene will be heading overseas on a year-long Rotary Youth Exchange.
Aotea is going to Sao Paulo, Brazil; Grace is going to Bornheim, Germany; and Hineira is heading to St Gallen, Switzerland.
The 17-year-olds said for them the exchange is more than just a chance to travel, it is an opportunity for them to learn a third language, get to know the indigenous people and compare Maori culture, to other cultures.
“We’re indigenous people ourselves, being Maori…I think it’s important embrace other cultures. Especially when you hear other places have lost their language, we know how lucky we are,” said Aotea.
“We can’t just limit ourselves to our own culture we have to broaden our perspective and open our mind,” said Grace.
Both Grace and Hineira want to become involved in the United Nations in the future and are hoping what they learn overseas will help them achieve this goal.
“I’m hoping by learning another language and being immersed in a different culture it will help with my future aspirations of being involved in the United Nations,” Grace said.
“I’m similar. I’ve always wanted to do international mediation to help prevent conflict in countries. That’s why I wanted to pursue a career in the UN. I’ve been gravitating towards Indigenous cultures. This will broaden my perspective,” Hineira said.
In preparation for their exchange the trio have been trying to learn as much about their host country as possible.
The group, who will head off in January, say they are excited but nervous.
“I think this trip will help me become more independent and self sufficient because I’m quite a dependent person. That’s why I’m pushing myself to stay the whole year,” said Hineira.
“We’ve already started placing bets on how long I’ll last,” said Grace.
Originally featured in the Northern Advocate, Monday November 7, 2016
By Mikaela Collins
Photo: Te Kapehu Whetu students Grace Barry, Hineira Komene and Aotea Parata are excited to embrace other cultures when they head on a year-long overseas exchange next year. Photo / John Stone