Asia Awareness Day at
Paraparaumu College

Year 10 Paraparaumu College students turned their hands to calligraphy, Chinese painting, martial arts, yoga, Bollywood dancing and more during the school’s Asia Awareness Day.

The Asia Awareness Day introduced students to a range of skills not usually taught at school

Principal Gregor Fountain says raising students’ awareness of Asia is becoming increasingly important.

"Events such as these are so important for students developing an understanding of the world in which they live. We are in the business of preparing students to work and the opportunities awaiting them in Asia are immense.”

Asia New Zealand Foundation Leadership Network member Nova Mercier was one of a number of speakers and instructors who shared their skills and knowledge of Asia with students. 

Mercier, who is now working as a policy analyst at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, spoke to students about her experiences in Korea and the value she’s got from living in the country and studying Korean language.

Students studying caligraphy

Paraparaumu College already offer Japanese language as an option to their students and will be introducing Mandarin for the first time in 2016. The school is part of a cluster of Kapiti secondary and primary schools that have secured Ministry of Education ALLiS (Asian Language Learning in Schools) funding. This allows the schools to work together and share resourcing. 

Speaking at a Chinese language forum this year, principal Fountain said New Zealand schools have a “moral imperative” to teach languages. “There is no doubt that they [students of today] will be, and they already are, working both internationally and domestically and virtually in a cross-cultural space.”  

Paraparaumu College has had a long history with the Asia New Zealand Foundation, with staff members participating in a number of Foundation events and activities.

Head of English and Media Studies Helen Benson was a participant on the Foundation’s Shanghai Business Studies Forum in 2014. The aim of the trip was to provide secondary school teachers with first-hand experience of business, culture and customs in China so they are inspired to include more Asia content in their teaching.

Benson says the idea behind the Asia Awareness Day was to give students a taste of Asian cultures they may otherwise have little knowledge of.

“It was a great way to get all students involved all at once, in a fun interactive way. Different subjects have Asian content but this was more about culture and sampling the various cultural aspects of a number of different Asian regions."

Students turned their hands to calligraphy, Chinese painting, martial arts, Yoga, Bollywood dancing and more

She says next year the school plans to expand the day and involve more community groups.

Paraparaumu College held their Asia Awareness Day with support from the Confucius Institute.