Wintec social work student Kai Quan, from China, has been named International Student of the Year by Education New Zealand.
The inaugural competition highlights the contribution that international students make to the New Zealand cities and towns where they study, as well as to their fellow students. There were six winners in total – one from each education sector and one students’ choice award. Kai was named the winner for the Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics sector.
Wintec’s Internationalisation Director Stewart Brougham says: “International students like Kai help make Wintec a vibrant and truly global institute of technology. Kai approaches her studies, volunteer work and campus life with dedication and enthusiasm so it’s fantastic to see her efforts recognised.”
Kai – who is in her third-year studying for a Bachelor of Applied Social Sciences at Wintec in Hamilton – won the award for her enthusiasm and participation in volunteer work both on and off campus. She has volunteered for International Social Work Day, played an active role in community events such as the Indigo Festival, plus taken on responsibilities with the Ethnic Social Workers Support Group in the city. In February this year Kai voluntarily co-ordinated, then took part in, a Human Rights Facilitator Training workshop run by the Human Rights Commission.
Her commitment to understanding the local environment in which she studies was demonstrated when she approached the tutor of Te Whiuwhiu o Te Hau (a Maori counselling paper) asking to learn the Maori social work model. She completed this paper successfully, overcoming her initial lack of knowledge of Maori culture.
Wintec tutor Rebecca Giles says: “This impressive young woman works with others in a manner that is integral, approachable and has the best interests of others at heart.”
Nominees were judged on their academic achievements, their participation in institutional and community activities, and how they have immersed themselves into Kiwi culture and experiences.
Institutions were encouraged to nominate their best international students and a judging panel selected winners to represent each sector.