Online wushu workshops provide
fun and learning in lockdown

With COVID-19 forcing student learning online, the Foundation's education team got creative and began offering online workshops that bring professional instructors into the home. The programme has seen wushu kung fu workshops offered to students throughout New Zealand, with taiko drumming, rakugo storytelling and Bollywood dance now also offered.

This is what the online wushu workshops look like for participating teachers and students

Wushu is a Chinese martial art and is an important part of Chinese cultural heritage. Traditional wushu incorporates many different styles and modernised wushu has become a global sport that is practiced by people of all ages.

The workshops are run by Wei Zhao, who is the head wushu coach for the New Zealand Kung-Fu Wushu Federation and coaches the national team.

Wei Zhao says he was excited at the chance to be an ambassador for the sport.

“As a professional wushu athlete, I feel it is my responsibility to pass on the cultural heritage and let others experience this great sport,” he says.

Before New Zealand went into lockdown in March, the education team had run successful wushu workshops in classrooms for the wider Auckland region. But with education switching to distance learning an opportunity arose to take the workshops online and reach a much wider audience.

During level 4 and 3 of New Zealand’s COVID-19 lockdown, the education team have facilitated fifteen wushu workshops across Auckland, Waikato, Canterbury, Bay of Plenty, Otago and Wellington to students studying a range of subjects and of diverse ages.

At Onslow College, Wellington, the Mandarin language class jumped at the chance to run a workshop that added a cultural experience to the class's language learning.

Onslow College Mandarin teacher Jimmy Wang says, “We are struggling to deliver remote learning online, struggling to engage learners and struggling to motivate learners - and remain motivated ourselves. This workshop fills all those gaps very well."

Meanwhile, Rototuna Senior High School in Hamilton reported the workshop flowed well into their health and physical education teaching, where students were learning about another culture through the concept of movement.

Online workshops allow students of different ages, studying different subjects and in different locations to access knowledge and understanding of Asia

 A student from Rototuna explains why they enjoyed the workshop: “I enjoyed getting my mum involved. It was a fun online call to do in isolation and to get away from the stress of work. It was interesting to hear the history."

The Foundation’s director of education Sean O'Connor says the online workshops have helped students connect with arts, sports, and people during a time when this has been difficult.

“Students are including their families and their bubbles into these workshops, so it becomes connection and fun for them,” he says.

“The workshops are an opportunity for students to have both learning and escapism at the same time, with connections to arts and sports, which are some of the things that we have been missing during lockdown.

“It also shows we can be innovative and creative and look for new ways to provide learning that breaks the barriers of location.”

The Foundation's education programme also provides online educational resources that help bring Asia into the classroom.