College – Issue 40

INTERNATIONALISM Christchurch proves holiday mecca for international students

Who better to lead a Christmas school holiday programme for international students than an immigrant himself?

When Old Boy Kevin Guttmann, a tutor in Richards House, was asked to look after international students stranded in Christchurch by Covid restrictions, he stepped up. After all, as an Austrian immigrant, he could relate to what the international students were going through. “I’d experienced the language barrier and knew the feeling well. I spoke no English when I came here, and learnt it all with a Kiwi accent, which is why most people can’t tell I’m from somewhere else,” says Kevin.

He had few problems coming up with things to do. “They would get their own breakfast, and then we’d all go out on a walk somewhere and usually have something for lunch along the way. They’d often choose a more traditional lunch, but I did introduce them to souvlaki at Riverside Market, which none of them had had before.” Afternoons were often spent in the gym and playing basketball. “I tried to keep them busy during the day, and I picked things that were all local and easy to access so they didn’t get the chance to be too homesick, and it seemed to work. They were all in the same boat and they looked after each other very well.” Kevin says that one day they walked to Jellie Park for a swim, another time they took a trip to Woodend Beach, and also went to Sumner for a surfing lesson. “One of the boys liked it so much that he now treats it as a sport and goes once or twice a week.” Living on-site himself, and getting to know all the boys so well, Kevin says he has benefited as much from the holiday programme as they did.

With more than six weeks of holidays stretching before them, the international students were first treated to a North Island tour with Flower’s House matron Karen Adams in charge. Their journey took them to many of New Zealand’s most celebrated areas, and familiarised them with the very different landscapes in the north. Then for two weeks from 18 January, about 10 boys, most of them Chinese and Korean, with one Spaniard, were resident in Jacobs House under Kevin’s daily programme of activities.

Christ’s College Canterbury


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