“I think it is a privilege to be involved in caring for students and part of shaping the young adults that they become.”
With a passion for pastoral care and a love of learning about cultural differences, Art teacher Nikki Rākete is delighted to be taking on the role of international dean from 2019.
What interested you in the role?
I have held a passion for pastoral care ever since I began teaching. I think it is a privilege to be involved in caring for students and to be part of shaping the young adults that they become.
At ACG I have relished talking to my international students about their culture and some of the challenges that they face when coming to a foreign country. I am intrigued about their cultural histories, values and customs and have found that students love sharing these parts of their identity.
I have taken time listening to their transitions into New Zealand and ACG Parnell and I am eager to ensure that they develop strong, positive experiences in Aotearoa.
So my interest in the role comes from my natural inclination toward pastoral care, combined with my love of learning about cultural differences and the unique opportunity to share some of our own Tikanga which is unique to NZ.
What do you think it’s like for an international student coming to New Zealand?
Among the students I have spoken to there is an underlying belief that New Zealand is a positive place for them to come to study. For some, coming to ACG Parnell College presents them the opportunity to find a balance between striving for excellence and maintaining a healthy mental and emotional sense of wellbeing.
Some students express understandable feelings of homesickness and missing certain things as simple as the food they used to eat for dinner or routines that they associate with home.
What are the key responsibilities of the role?
It’s about helping our students be successful, which requires a high level of pastoral care. This involves being a point of contact for our international students if they have questions or need support with their day-to-day school life. Enforcing ACG Parnell College’s systems around conduct, discipline and uniform are part of it, as is supporting teaching staff in curriculum development and student evaluation to progress student learning.
How will Senior Campus, opening in 2019, cater for international students?
There are two international deans so there will be great support for our international students coming to our new Senior Campus. We will work closely together to ensure there’s a smooth transition for our students completing year 11.
How can schools best look after international students?
I think it’s a matter of coming from the position of ‘what would I want this to look like if it were my child’. If the emotional, mental, spiritual and physical wellbeing of the child is central to all decision making, you’re on the right track.
Having clear communication with students and their families is important, as are systems that are well organised and well communicated between all the people involved in the student’s life.
What is your vision for the role?
My personal goal is that students develop strong relationships with others and that they develop pride in who they are.
I hope they feel respected, develop tolerance and compassion toward others, and also find these qualities in their peers and tutors. My hope is that they leave ACG Parnell feeling like they were supported in hard times and celebrated when they found success, that they’re proud of their school and know their school is proud of them too.