Last Sunday 16 ESOL students, who are mainly former refugees or new New Zealanders, left Nayland College for three days in Wellington.
When we woke up on Monday morning it was pouring with rain and blowing a gale – true Wellington weather. This didn’t deter us as; we dressed for the occasion and went out to get our bearings.
Our first stop very cold and wet was a hot chocolate at Fidel’s Café where we met an ex AFS student who attended Nayland College, she then went home for 13 years, met her partner who was from Texas and he also attended Nayland College. At the age of 29 they returned to NZ. Sofia was so pleased to see some people from her old school. Once we dried off, we then went to Te Papa.
Here the students firstly went through the Gallipoli exhibition and at the end wrote their message on a poppy and threw them in amongst those of other visitors. The students were fascinated by the large soldiers inside and their story.
After lunch here the students then went on to the crocodile bikes (even though they weren’t officially opened due to the weather conditions) After this we then went up the cable car and fortunately the weather was clearing a little so they were able to get some sense of where they were. They then walked down through the botanic gardens.
We then returned to the hostel for their potluck dinner and a desert competition. By 9pm we had students begging to go to bed – what a perfect way to start camp.
This morning the weather still hadn’t improved and actually the ferries were running 2 hours late due to the weather conditions. Again, this didn’t deter us and off we went to the zoo. A highlight of the Unique New Zealand tour was feeding a sheep. After this they got to walk around the zoo.
They loved seeing the giraffe and monkeys. However, they were especially lucky to see a tiger who needed to have a root canal being done on one of its teeth. They were able to ask questions and get a response straight away. After this we then went out to Queensgate for an hour of shopping in the mall – here they got completely lost. We then went to Brandon Intermediate where we met a bunch of Colombian Refugees from all different schools in that area. We were privileged to be joined by principals, parents, representatives from the Auckland, Wellington and of course Mrs Elizabeth Hamilton all of these people have responsibilities towards our former refugee families.
Next, we went to Whitby’s restaurant at the James Cook Hotel for a buffet meal. Some of the student’s comments were “Miss this is where the rich and famous go, can we go here?” (Carlos). After this we then went and saw Wellington by night during a beautiful walk around the harbour on our way back to the hostel.
This morning we got up, packed up and headed to Parliament. Here we were met by Rachel Boyack and Carmen from the education team.
We got to pretend that we were the government and to sit in the real seats. Next, we went into the debating chamber and all got to sit in Rachel’s seat with her for our photo.
After making our way down the speaker’s corridor we went into the caucus room where we had the opportunity to meet Ibrahim Omer. He told us his story of his journey to New Zealand, then most of the students shared their route to New Zealand with him. After many tears we left but as an observer it was incredible how brave our students were.
Lastly, I’d like to thank the Mainland Foundation, Helping Hands, Nelson Mitre 10 and the many other people who have donated funds to allow this trip to happen. I would also like to acknowledge Mr John Valentine who also volunteered to come with us. Without your support this wouldn’t of been possible. The students certainly have some lifetime memories of their first trip out of Nelson.
By Shellee Hall