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Education New Zealand’s high school International Student of the Year for 2011, Japanese student Ryo Hosoma, will begin his studies towards a BA in Media and Communication at the University of Canterbury this month as the recipient of one of UC’s new four-year scholarships for international students.
Ryo, who studied at Burnside High School in Christchurch, has been awarded one of UC’s 24 new UC International Student Undergraduate Scholarships. These scholarships contribute up to $20,000 per annum towards tuition fees for international students to study at UC. Four of the recipients of UC’s new scholarship were high school students at Burnside High School last year.
“Ryo arrived in January 2009 and came to school on the first day speaking practically no English and exceptionally shy,” said Burnside High School International Manager Rhonda Brodie. “Despite his low level of English, Ryo became involved in school life – playing the clarinet in Orchestra and the flute in Concert Band.”
“One of the reasons I came to New Zealand was to improve my English skills,” said Ryo. “However, I now think it wasn’t just about learning the language. It was more about learning the culture, getting to know the locals and what living in a foreign county is like.”
After six months of intensive English instruction, Ryo’s English was much stronger and he joined the school’s other students in mainstream classes. He also participated in a lot of school activities. He found the school staff very supportive and friendly.
“Especially the staff working at the school’s International Department,” said Ryo. “They were the people who used to help me all the time, whenever I had a problem.”
“He became the International Department’s Japanese representative – taking new families, agents and students on tours of the school,” said Rhonda Brodie. “Ryo helped out at every international event. He was a fantastic mentor for younger international students – often spending time talking to them and reassuring them that when they are homesick, things will get easier.”
Ryo was also a big help after the earthquake in Christchurch last February, helping to organise students, taking care of families that came from overseas, and starting a Facebook page to help the school’s International Department keep in touch with everyone.
Ryo decided to stay in Christchurch to continue his education at University.
“Ryo’s journey from having limited English to gaining one of UC’s prestigious new four-year scholarships for international students in the space of less than three years is a fantastic example of the educational pathway that is available for international students in New Zealand,” said University of Canterbury Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Student Services and International, Dr Nello Angerilli. “We are delighted that Ryo has chosen to study at UC and look forward to supporting and encouraging his success during his time here with us.”
Ryo hasn’t yet decided where he plans to live after he completes his degree, but he’s sure that his studies in New Zealand will give him a big advantage in the global job market. “If I decided to get a job (back in Japan), completing university in New Zealand would be a big advantage for me because a lot of Japanese companies are trying to hire people who are able to see things globally,” said Ryo.
The other former Burnside High School students who are winners of the new scholarships are outstanding scholars who have shown a real passion for Christchurch over the last year, said Ms Brodie.
“One of the other scholarship winners, Kian Seng Looi, chose to stay in Christchurch and attend UC in part because of the fantastic experience he had as a member of the Student Volunteer Army last year. All four of our former students who have won scholarships are thrilled to be starting their studies at UC this month.”