International students strut their stuff

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Whitireia Community Polytechnic is going to be a whirling display of festive colour, performance, and foods on its International Day when the Porirua campus is transformed into a bustling and vibrant array of costumes, dances, food, and music.

Whitireia has students from 32 different countries, and on Wednesday, 2 April, the students will share their culture with other students at the polytechnic.

One highlight will be the demonstration of the dramatic Shao-Lin martial arts, including their famed sword postures. The Wu Tao Academy will put on a rare public demonstration of the Kung Fu style made famous by the Shao-Lin Monks. And two lucky Chinese students will be selected to don the head for the Chinese Lion dancing to drum and firecrackers.

A parade in national dress will snake throughout the campus, and student courtyard will come alive at lunchtime to performances of dancing groups, martial arts demonstrations, and musicians. These include Taiko drummers, Samoan Dancing, Chinese Dancing, and the campus's own Whitireia Performing Arts Group.

Many of the International groups will also have stands set up to display their clothes, food, artefacts and other items of culture.

Last year the number of international students doubled from the previous year, from 200 to 400 students. International Marketing Manager Gerda Yska says this is still a very small proportion of the total student roll of 6,000. "But we want to make them feel part of our community, and that the community feels part of their new life here too," she says.

The public is invited, in fact encouraged to join the polytechnic community. Several national ambassadors are attending. The day will be kicked off at 11:30am by a powhiri at the campus's student services courtyard.

Whitireia's new International Marketing officer, Mustapha Ong, says the aim of the International Day is to increase understanding and appreciation within the unique cultures that make up the student body of the polytechnic.

"Having 32 different nationals represented by our students shows the great cross section Whitireia has in its cultural makeup. Many of those students have come here to learn about New Zealand, but we can all learn from them too" he says. "It's a happy friendly polytechnic, and International Day encourages even more gaiety among the students. We hope lots of people from Kāpiti and Porirua join us," says Mr Ong.

The student cafeteria will be serving a variety of international dishes at lunchtime.