Japanese students strike up friendships

STUNNING STRIKE: Haruka Taniguchi, 19, who is in Taranaki with nine other Nihon University students, celebrates bowling the first strike during a visit to New Plymouth’s Bowlarama yesterday.
STUNNING STRIKE: Haruka Taniguchi, 19, who is in Taranaki with nine other Nihon University students, celebrates bowling the first strike during a visit to New Plymouth’s Bowlarama yesterday.

Visiting Japanese student Haruka Taniguchi was just as surprised as her classmates when she bowled the first strike at Bowlarama in New Plymouth yesterday.

"I rarely go bowling. I go about once a year or something like that," the 19-year-old Nihon University student said.

Miss Taniguchi and nine other international relations students from New Plymouth's sister city, Mishima, are being hosted at Witt while on a four-week visit to New Zealand.

The annual programme is designed to provide visiting students with an opportunity to learn about a foreign culture.

"It really is an experience for them," Witt international student liaison Lynn Murray said.

"It's all a part of their education and their learning."

Apart from taking English language and New Zealand culture classes, the students also visit Taranaki schools.

Last weekend, the students visited Wellington.

Miss Taniguchi found New Plymouth very quiet compared with Mishima.

However, she said the two cities were still quite similar.

"The people here are very kind, and there are also a lot of hills here as well," said Miss Taniguchi, who is on her first trip overseas.

Classmate Shinnosuke Ikeda, who is a 2nd dan in judo, said a highlight of the trip had been a visit to a New Plymouth judo club.

"I think New Zealand has powerful style, while Japanese are more skilful," Mr Ikeda said.

Mrs Murray has been involved with the exchange programme for 12 years.

She said it was always sad when a group left, especially for the students' host families.

"When they're here for three-and-half weeks you can make very strong bonds with the students," she said.

Mrs Murray said the Japanese students often returned to New Zealand on working visas.

"We've had about three or four students come back," Mrs Murray said.

"One student wanted to come back but his parents were not sure how safe New Zealand was."

Tipene Bryant is a Witt journalism student

Taranaki Daily News