Fourteen students and three staff from an American college have made Whanganui UCOL their home base for six week as part of their programme focusing on New Zealand cultures and the environment.
The group from Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, are here as part of a semester-long off-campus programme that takes them around New Zealand.
While in the country, the students learn about environmental issues and cultures of New Zealand, and also complete internships.
This semester’s students are mostly in their junior (third) year, and are studying a range of majors including environmental studies, biology, and geology.
They arrived at UCOL on 1 February, and have been using space in the Edith Gallery for their classes.
Earlham College has been running its New Zealand semester programme since 2008, and have been coming to Whanganui since 2012. This is the first year the College has used UCOL as its Whanganui base.
The group’s UCOL connection came about after Earlham College’s North Island Coordinator Belinda Marker reached out to Whanganui UCOL Campus Manager Bronwyn Paul, looking for classroom space.
Prior to arriving at UCOL, the group stayed at the Whanganui Quaker Settlement for three weeks.
The students are staying with local families while they are based at UCOL.
After their time in Whanganui, the group will make its way to the South Island for three weeks, visiting Moeraki, Marlborough, and Christchurch, learning about eco-tourism, agriculture, and Christchurch’s earthquake recovery efforts.
Ms Paul says it has been great having the Earlham College students and staff on campus, and hopes the relationship between the institutions can continue to grow.
“We’ve made it so they can integrate into UCOL life as much as they want while they do their own courses. We’ve invited them to all of the happenings to make them feel part of the family.”
“Hopefully in the future we’ll be able to send some of our students to Earlham for a semester.”
The Earlham students are being treated like UCOL students while they are here, and have been issued with UCOL IDs so they can utilise campus services such as the library, and ride the city buses for free.
Jamey Pavey, the Faculty Coordinator for the Earlham College group, says the programme has been a positive experience for the students.
“As well as holding our classes at UCOL and having the students interning in Whanganui, we’ve been on trips to Taranaki, Tongariro National Park, and Kāpiti Island, and paddled down the Whanganui River with Ki Tai”.
“We were welcomed to UCOL with a pōwhiri, where we performed our own waiata written by Nigel Brooke, one of the residents at the Quaker Settlement, so that was quite special.”
Earlham College offers off-campus programmes in 18 different countries, with over 65 percent of Earlham graduates participating in a semester or year-long off-campus programme.
Pictured above: The group from Earlham College enjoy the sights on Kāpiti Island.