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If You Can’t Go To The World....Let The World Come To You!

Lack of money, ill health, reluctance to step on a plane, too busy with work or children... there are lots of reasons why you may not be able to travel but this does not mean you must miss out on the wonderful experiences of mingling with people of other cultures. Here are some of the ways my life and the lives of my family have been enriched by intercultural experiences at home. Life-long friendships have developed and our mailbox often brings letters and postcards from distant corners of the world.


  1. STUDENT EXCHANGE SCHEMES place foreign students into New Zealand homes for varying amounts of time, from 6 weeks to 12 months. In our case, we have gone through AFS, which is an organisation that has been around for over 56 years. The students have gone through a rigorous selection process so you can be fairly sure that your new family member will be a well adjusted teenager. These young, enthusiastic, friendly people bring a new dimension to your life...they will bring you alive! We have hosted students from Italy, Spain and Argentina.
  2. SERVAS is an organisation that promotes peace and tolerance amongst people of different nations. Visitors stay in your home for 2 nights and share with you their experiences and philosophies on life. Usually they are travelling by independent means and during the day are busy seeing the sights of your area. Often they want to stay in rural areas in order to get a real rural experience. In recent years we have had guests of a variety of ages from Poland, France, Switzerland, Canada, Germany, Denmark and Austria. (www.servas.org)
  3. SCHOOL EXCHANGES. We have had short-term teenage guests from Japan several times and next month a student from Chile will stay for a couple of weeks.
  4. Organisations such as Rotary and Lions have short term programmes working.
  5. Look in the newspaper and you will sometimes see adverts for homestay hosts as many students from abroad come to New Zealand for their education. You could meet a friend for life and be paid for it!


  1. ESOL is a community-based organisation helping refugees and migrants to learn English and to start their new life in New Zealand, providing English language skills and support for effective resettlement. Tutors are adult volunteers from the community who have become trained (free courses are available) to become ESOL home tutors through the local ESOL Home Tutor scheme. (http://www.esolht.org.nz/)
  2. MULTI ETHNIC COUNCILS are active in many New Zealand provinces. In Taranaki, for example, the Multi Ethnic Council holds a hugely successful bi-annual carnival. Help is always appreciated!


When the time comes for you to travel you will be better equipped to communicate with the locals.

  1. NIGHT CLASSES in a variety of languages are held at polytechs and high schools. You will have lots of fun with people, who, like you, are grappling with a new language.
  2. CORRESPONDENCE SCHOOL AND EXTRAMURAL UNIVERSITY COURSES mean you can study to a greater degree and in your own time.
  3. USE YOUR COMPUTER. I have enrolled with Transparent Language and travlang.com. From travlang (http://travlang.com/wordofday) each day I receive a new word to learn and from Transparent Language a new sentence. Choose from 100 languages!! It’s an easy way to learn and it’s free! You can learn and test your skills with games too - have a look at www.transparent.com
By yellow 13-Feb-2006
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