by Wendy Moffitt

International Feepayers 2021

Director of International Students, Ms Tonia Heeps, reports on how our International boys are faring in this new COVID-19 reality.

Study abroad is the single most effective way of changing the way we view the world. It opens our doors to strengthen our communities, gives young people cross-cultural skills and supports businesses to prosper here and offshore. It is for these reasons that HBHS has always been dedicated to supporting and growing our international feepaying programme. But, 2020 was a year of unprecedented challenges for us all and now, 18 months on, schools throughout New Zealand are continuing to grapple with the virtual collapse of international education, the emotional toll it has taken on the international students who have remained in our care and the uncertain future of international education.

While there was the hope that 2021 would see us return to a ‘new normal’ it has been another extraordinarily challenging year for our international feepaying students. These resilient, brave young men shared in our nation’s joy and appreciation of a summer without restrictions, but the latter part of this year has been tinged by the frustration and sadness of knowing that, for a second year in a row, they will not be reunited with their families for Christmas, Chinese New Year and many other significant family celebrations and commemorations. They must also face the very real likelihood that this separation from returning home to visit their families will extend well into 2022. Many of us are missing family overseas but, when we consider how this separation would feel if we were only 15, 16 or 17, the real impact of this separation for our international students can be better understood.

When we look back on our year, we must be grateful for what we were able to enjoy and share with our international students. In March, our 35 feepayers travelled to Rotorua for 2 days of adrenalin fuelled activities and team building.

During the April holidays, a large group of our boys joined international students from 4 other local high schools for a day of ice skating in Auckland. The boys’ skating skills ranged from an unsteady shuffle and fall to graceful loops around the rink but regardless of abilities, all the boys had a great day.

In school our international students continued to focus on their studies and remain as optimistic and as positive as they could given the uncertainty of what the immediate future held for them. It is a testament to their determination that so many of them were able to not only complete their year with sound results but also excel in a range of curriculum areas. The following boys deserve special mention for their outstanding academic achievements or for their service this year. Jeff (Muboyu) Jia placed first in Year 11 Music. Rithy Phoeun placed first in Year 11 Electronics. Year 12 student Flynn (Zihang) Fan placed first in Year 13 English Language Learning. Boyang Jiang gained first place in Year 11 English Language Learning and Feihong Dong placed first in Year 13 Design and Visual Communication. Jack (Hongxin) Su was first in Year 12 Chinese for Native Speakers. Chanwoo Kim and Fuyi Li gained Bronze Service awards, Justin Lai gained a Silver Award for his service and a special mention must go to Kevin (Liufeiyang) Zheng for earning a Gold Award for his service to the school and community.

In the sporting arena, several of our international students were also recognised for their achievements. Jeff Jia won the trophy for Most Promising Badminton Player. Henry Palmer, a member of our 1st XV, was recognised as the Top Senior Sprinter and Ben Russell, also a member of our 1st XV won the trophy for International Rugby Player of the Year.

I would like to take this opportunity to extend a heartfelt thanks to our homestay families. Over the past two years they have cared for our students not only during the school year but also over the Christmas holidays. The importance of their unfailing support and kindness to the students in their care cannot be underestimated. I would also like to thank our families overseas for their trust in our school to care for their sons. Thank you also to our dedicated International Centre team: Ms Ann Halpin, Mrs Anel Botha, Mrs Alice Matthews, Mrs Wendy Cameron and Ms Zhou Li for their unfailing support and encouragement for this valued group of students.

Ms Tonia Heeps

International Director