Long journey leads to bilingual class
More than three years after Briton Amy Mallaby and her partner arrived in New Zealand for a holiday she is preparing to join her classmates in the last teachers' college graduation in Invercargill.
Miss Mallaby will be awarded her Bachelor of Teaching Endorsed in Primary Bilingual Education, Te Pokai Matauranga o te Ao Rua, at a graduation ceremony at Te Rau Aroha Marae, Bluff, this morning.
When the couple arrived in Auckland in 2009 they had no intention of staying in the country permanently.
"We took our time and ended up in Invercargill in the middle of winter. It is lovely here, it is such a great place to stay and the people are fantastic," she said.
Initially enrolling in the mainstream teaching degree, she said the idea of completing the bilingual degree "absolutely terrified" her at first. "I didn't know anything about Maori when I came here . . . it seemed like you needed the language, the Reo, [to do the course] and there was no way I could do that."
However, after a month she changed to the bilingual degree and "just loved it".
"I don't think I would have come out with the same knowledge doing the mainstream one. In terms of Maori culture it is not just something you can read about or learn about from books. You need to be in it, it is something you need to experience to really appreciate it to its full extent," Miss Mallaby said.
"The people become your whanau, you're not just in the classroom from 9am to 10pm.
"It is out-of-class time and the things we do then, like kapa haka practices."
As a teacher it was important to feel confident in what she was teaching in the classroom, she said.
She had enjoyed the challenge of being out of her comfort zone during the three-year course, and learning about someone else's culture and following their lead, Miss Mallaby said.
"It has been the most challenging and probably the most exciting thing I have done."
Miss Mallaby hoped to find a primary teaching job in Invercargill, as she and her partner were settled here, although the prospect of looking for a job was a bit scary, she said.
Miss Mallaby's family have travelled from the UK for today's graduation.
On Monday she was awarded the Community Trust of Southland outstanding graduate award for the primary teaching course.
Today will be the last time teaching graduates from the University of Otago's Southland campus will have their parade and graduation ceremony in the city. In July the university announced that from next year graduates will take part in the Dunedin ceremonies, to cut costs. The parade starts at Wachner Place at 3.15pm and will finish at the Civic Theatre.
The Southland Times