We are reaping the benefits from strengthening links with countries to our west, in particular China.
Prime Minister John Key’s trip to Latin America signalled we’re also taking links with countries to our east more seriously.
There is good potential for business relationships, trade and also links through education:
Education Minister Hekia Parata has announced that seven 15 and 16 year-old Spanish language students from New Zealand will travel to Santiago later this year as part of a new exchange programme.
The “Flying Kiwis” programme has been developed in response to the highly-successful Chilean government-sponsored “Penguins without Borders” programme, which was piloted in New Zealand this year, and saw forty Chilean students come to New Zealand to live and study for two terms in the first half of the year.
The New Zealand students will go to school in Santiago and stay with the families of the Chilean students who participated in the “Penguins without Borders” programme.
Ms Parata made the announcement today during her meeting with Chile’s Minister of Economy, Development and Tourism, Felix de Vicente in Santiago.
“The “Flying Kiwis” programme is an exciting opportunity for our students. It will enable them to see and experience life in Chile and immerse themselves in the Spanish language,’’ says Ms Parata.
“It was an honour for New Zealand to be chosen to host the pilot of the “Penguins without Borders” programme and a great pleasure for our schools and communities to host the first group of Chilean students. I know that the schools and families in Santiago will welcome and look after our students in true Chilean style.’’
The New Zealand students will be chosen from those learning the Spanish language at schools currently hosting the Chilean students in New Zealand. Their travel will be sponsored by Education New Zealand, the government’s agency for international education.
“Education exchange is a wonderful opportunity that brings a new world of experience for all involved. Scholarship and exchange programmes such as “Flying Kiwis” and “Penguins without Borders” create lifelong connections for both the Chilean and New Zealand students taking part. We look forward to continued involvement in such programmes.”
Earlier today Ms Parata met with Chile’s Minister of Education, Carolina Schmidt, and invited Chile to the International Summit on the Teaching Profession which New Zealand will host in March 2014.
Ms Parata is in Chile to reinforce the bilateral relationship, in which education is a key strand, between Chile and New Zealand, following on from Prime Minster John Key’s visit to Chile earlier in the year.
There’s a huge element of luck in exchanges. We got the jackpot when we hosted a teenager from Argentina for a year through AFS and his family is now ours.
The Chilean exchanges are shorter, just a few weeks, but that is time for those involved to learn a lot and establish relationships which could endure.
The programme might lead to longer exchanges and other educational opportunities.
Year-long exchanges between countries in the southern hemisphere, like Chile and Argentina, make it easier for students because the educational calendar is similar whereas those going to or from the northern hemisphere countries like Japan or China have to come or leave part way through a school-year.