Ice­bergs to beaches

Kapi-Mana News - - EDUCATION - By EMMA BEER

Tu­paar­naq Motzfeldt left the melt­ing ice in Green­land last year to learn English in New Zealand.

The AFS ex­change stu­dent was only 16 when she left her home to spend a year abroad.

‘‘I wanted to go to coun­tries that speak English,’’ she said. ‘‘I knew peo­ple who had been to New Zealand and they al­ways told me amaz­ing things.’’

When she told friends she was leav­ing they were very jeal­ous and told her how lucky she was.

Tu­paar­naq said she wanted to learn to speak English and to learn about other cul­tures.

She has found Welling­ton a vast change from life in her home town of Qaqor­toq, which has a pop­u­la­tion of only 3500.

Be­fore ar­riv­ing here, Tu­paar­naq had no idea about New Zealand’s Maori cul­ture.

‘‘When I first saw the haka I thought it was very cool,’’ she said.

She has also been tak­ing te reo at Welling­ton East Girls’ Col­lege, but has found it hard be­cause the sounds dif­fer greatly to her na­tive lan­guage of Green­landic.

‘‘Green­landic is com­pletely dif­fer­ent to any other lan­guage.’’

At­tend­ing a sin­gle-sex school also took some get­ting used to.

She at­tended a co-ed school in Green­land.

‘‘ We wore no uni­forms [ at home]. It’s a big dif­fer­ence, but I like it. First time no, [I didn’t like wear­ing a uni­form], but I got used to it. When you woke up you didn’t have to think about what to wear.’’

The AFS pro­gramme places stu­dents in a host fam­ily through­out their stay.

Re­nata Hardy of Brook­lyn is Tu­paar­naq’s host mother.

She had looked at other stu­dent pro­grammes, but felt that AFS of­fered the most suit­able so­lu­tion.

‘‘ With AFS it’s a cul­tural ex­change; [Tu­paar­naq] is not here to study, not here to do any­thing else other than ob­serve us and we can ob­serve her,’’ she said.

‘‘ I wanted to broaden the chil­dren’s hori­zons, show them that there’s other cul­tures out there. And show them what it’s like to live with some­one who speaks an­other lan­guage.’’

It had been a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for ev­ery­body, she said.

Hav­ing a new fam­ily mem­ber had not fazed Mrs Hardy’s daugh­ters, Laura, 7, and An­gelina, 8. They took to Tu­paar­naq im­me­di­ately.

‘‘ There was no ad­just­ment. She’s an older, pretty, 16-year-old girl,’’ said Mrs Hardy.

The Hardys have taken Tu­paar­naq on fam­ily hol­i­days to en­sure she got the full New Zealand ex­pe­ri­ence.

‘‘We went to Ro­torua and did lug­ing and wa­ter­ski­ing,’’ said Mrs Hardy.

How­ever, be­cause Green­land has no beaches, Whanga­mata had been the high­light.

‘‘I got a bit sun­burnt for the first time in my life,’’ said Tu­paar­naq.

Mrs Hardy said the fam­ily had planned a beach hol­i­day, rather than do­ing a moun­tain hol­i­day down south. ‘‘They’ve got lots of those [in Green­land].’’

She said host fam­i­lies were not obliged to take ex­change stu­dents around the coun­try be­cause host­ing was en­tirely vol­un­tary. ‘‘But it’s a long way to come and not see any­thing.’’

Be­ing able to drive around the coun­try was a new ex­pe­ri­ence for Tu­paar­naq.

‘‘ In Green­land there are no roads be­tween towns.

‘‘If you want to go some­where you have go on the ferry or by he­li­copter,’’ she said. ‘‘It’s very dif­fer­ent.’’ AFS spokesper­son Clive Thorp said fam­i­lies such as the Hardys were ex­actly what AFS was look­ing for.

He said the Welling­ton chap­ter of AFS was strug­gling to find enough host fam­i­lies for the stu­dents who wanted to come here.

Stu­dents are gen­er­ally aged be­tween 15 and 18. They stay for be­tween three to 12 months.

‘‘Welling­ton is a com­pact city. It’s an at­trac­tive city to kids at that age – pub­lic trans­port right out­side their door and there are lots of ac­tiv­i­ties for them to do.’’

There are five AFS ex­change stu­dents in Welling­ton but the or­gan­i­sa­tion would like to be able to host about 10. Mr Thorp en­cour­aged more fam­i­lies to think about host­ing a stu­dent.

‘‘There is the huge en­joy­ment the vis­it­ing stu­dent gets from the city and the en­joy­ment a host fam­ily can get from hav­ing a stu­dent.’’

Far from home: AFS stu­dent Tu­paar­naq Motzfeldt, back left, with host mother Re­nata Hardy and her two daugh­ters An­gelina, left, and Laura.

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