International Student Wellbeing
The page provides resources to support and enhance the wellbeing of International Students. It is intended for use by International Students, education agencies and education providers.
International Student Wellbeing Strategy (ISWS) funding
ISWS funding has been supporting project initiatives that deliver international student wellbeing outcomes for three years now. We are starting to build up a collection of resources that focus on international students.
NZISA Mental Health Conference 2018
With ISWS funding, the New Zealand International Students’ Association’s (NZISA) Mental Health Conference in 2018 was the first student-led mental health conference in New Zealand.
It attracted more than a hundred international and local students, health professionals, and professionals in the international education sector.
The conference aimed at imparting knowledge on coping with mental health, supporting others struggling with mental health, identifying gaps and proposing solutions for education institutions and the sector at large.
The workshops offered by leading healthcare providers gave students and educators an insight into the cultural dimensions of mental wellbeing, and barriers that prevent international students from seeking help.
Speakers also highlighted the need for improvement in the referral system to address the needs of our culturally diverse students. They encouraged all attendees to enhance communications with our international students so that trust between providers and students can be built and problems can be solved.
The conference provided an excellent opportunity for our students to forge new friendships, share experiences, best practices and support one another.
Many of the students who connected last year are now working closely together on a more connected international student voice.
Following the conference, NZISA worked with Massey University Students’ Association to create its first International Student Officer role. This shows how powerful bringing together the student voice can be.
STeudaemonia: Supporting young people to have a voice through student-led content creation
With ISWS funding, STeudaemonia is an international student radio show/podcast produced at the Plains FM Community Access Radio Station in Canterbury.
The international student broadcasters use their air time to address topics which are relevant and important to them and their peers, including issues such as homesickness, participating in life in Christchurch, how to deal with pressures such as exams and finding work, dealing with the New Zealand winter, and flatting with Kiwis.
The project has proven highly successful. Since its inception in early/mid-2018, more than one hundred and fiftyinternational students have been involved and their shows have been played more than 14,000 times (plus live listens) making STeudaemonia one of the most popular shows on Plains FM.
Feedback indicates that international student participants have experienced a range of significant benefits, including:
- increased connectivity and belonging to the Christchurch community through feeling valued, meeting new people and hearing about opportunities and events
- increased confidence in using their English language, and the development of technical and communication skills.
Broadcasters have also noted positive impacts among the international student cohort more broadly, especially an increased awareness of their worth as international students, and where to seek support if needed.
This resource is for anybody interested in supporting young people to have a voice through student-led content creation.
Kōrerotia: How to establish an international student radio show/podcast guide(external link) [Plains FM, PDF: 1405 KB]
Silverline mental health and wellbeing community
ISWS funding has supported Silverline to implement an incredible community model which supports mental health and well-being.
Silverline is a student-led initiative that challenges the struggle of our own mental health and well-being. It is propelled by students directing the well-being conversation that makes sense to them. It is as much a movement as it is a community.
Initially intended as a one semester experiment, Silverline has taken a life of its own. The initiative puts on unexpected and creative ways to engage everyone in the mental health and wellbeing conversation.
In Silverline’s short history, the initiative has successfully put on two sell-out student wellbeing festivals, each time drawing 400 students passionate to learn more about how to support each other and themselves through challenging times.
Examples of other Silverline instalments include ‘Bring a Bro to Yoga’, which challenged stereotypes and stigmas associated with wellness activities as well as ‘Fluro Fridays’ that saw students chatting and sharing experiences over sunrise and surf at St Kilda beach.
The work that Silverline has done has had such a positive impact that Victoria University in Wellington through word of mouth heard about “Bring a bro to Yoga” and also ran this event during 2019’s mental health week.
This support network provides a safe space to discuss struggles, share resources with each other and build friendships.
Silverline has also been a place to welcome new faces as well, especially at a time of huge adjustment for students, which combats homesickness.
Several students have expressed their gratitude for being provided an opportunity to engage with their mental health and wellbeing in a positive manner which has been so valuable for international students.
ISANA NZ community engagement workshops
ISWS funding enabled ISANA NZ to deliver Community Engagement workshops which focused on international student transitional experiences, intercultural competence, and managing critical incidents.
Qualified experts on mental health and wellbeing presented the regional workshops. Each workshop was tailored to the specific needs of each area and focused on the four pillars of the ISWS. Zoom (online meeting) follow-up conversations offered an extended workshop platform to ask questions and exchange knowledge.
ENZ, NZQA, Ethnic Communities and SIEBA were engaged to promote the workshops and initiatives. The following groups were represented at the regional workshops:
- health professionals
- recreation centres
- student association support staff and student leaders
- community groups
- local government
- youth service agencies
- local commercial entities servicing international students
- education providers, regional bodies and community groups.
The integrated intercultural training sessions and community engagement programme equipped participants to strengthen bridges between international students and the local community.
The intercultural training workshops highlighted learning and teaching practices that effectively engage international students. Strategies to support international students were the primary focus of the critical incident and transitions workshops.
Both the professional development and community engagement workshops provided intercultural models and strategies for IE practitioners to support international students. This would include programmes that provided tailored incentives for both domestic and international to participate in volunteering work (VicPlus, schools international buddy programme).
The Community Engagement workshops have received positive feedback from International Education (IE) practitioners and other groups represented at the workshops. As a result of the ISWS funded regional workshops, ISANA NZ has continued to provide similar workshops.
Study Auckland and Ngāti Whātua Orākei: Rukuhia Global Leadership Pilot Programme
ISWS funding was used to support the pilot Rukuhia Global Leadership Programme (pilot programme). The pilot programme was designed by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei (Māori tribe based in Auckland) and supported by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED)’s Study Auckland, Education New Zealand and the Ministry of Education.
The name Rukuhia is taken from a Māori proverb: Ki te hōhonu koe, me ruku kawau maro. Should you dive, dive deep like the determined Kawau bird. International students from over 40 countries participated in the one-day event with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, learning about Māori culture and values.
The interactive, day-long pilot programme aimed to support around 30 students on location at the Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei marae (ancestral grounds) near central Auckland. The programme included workshops focusing on values-based leadership, innovation, sustainability and the connection of people, place and environment.
Organisers have acknowledged that international students need to feel welcomed and valued for their contribution to New Zealand and local communities that they live and study in. International students are enthusiastic to learn about our Māori culture in order to help them fulfil their own career development potential.
The pilot programme was a success in terms of its impact and benefits to the international students. Positive feedback included increased knowledge and an appreciation of the connections between Māori culture and the environment.
The majority of students (98%) who have participated in the pilot would recommend the programme to their friends and (88%) of students stated that they feel the pilot programme had a positive impact on their future career.
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