St Matthew’s Collegiate School’s international students. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

LISA URBANI
lisa.urbani@age.co.nz

Rathkeale College’s director of international students Glen McIntosh says the “Rathkeale bubble is a nice place to be locked down in, and our boys are doing exceptionally well”.

Despite it being the Easter school break, 17 international students from South Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, China, and Japan are in isolation in a boarding house at the college, on the outskirts of Masterton.

Many of their home countries are more seriously affected by the covid-19 virus than New Zealand is, and so their families are grateful that they are able to stay in the safety of the Rathkeale campus bubble.

Having plenty of company, all are in good spirits, and being well looked after by staff who live at the school.

McIntosh said, “We have a duty of care to educate them and look after them, and everyone who lives here is pitching in.

“We are all relishing the opportunity to sample the traditional cooking of the new Rathkeale chef, who is also from Thailand.”

Rathkeale College international students playing hockey.

Many activities such as walks, online studies, quiz nights, table tennis tournaments, artistic endeavours, and visits to the school gym are keeping the students occupied, and they have been able to send photos and reassuring messages to their parents.

At Rathkeale’s sister school, St Matthew’s Collegiate School, their 10 international students from Thailand, Japan and Hong Kong, are also in their isolation bubble at the college.

They too are similarly engaged in keeping busy.

International Students Dean Jenny Hannon said, “We are really proud of the way in which the girls are helping each other and tackling the chores around the boarding house.

“There was no advantage to them going home, because of the risk in their home countries, and lots of the senior girls are doing NCEA, so they need to work on their studies.”

Besides the two-hour prep each day which helps them keep up with their academic demands, the girls have been going to the school gym, baking, playing board games, and going on treasure hunts.

Croquet and petanque are planned if the weather continues to be fine.

Matron Kim Aperloo oversees the girls with energy and enthusiasm, with backup from Hannon and the International Students marketing manager Junko Bracefield, who is originally from Japan.

She teaches the girls how to cook and her “dumpling parties” are apparently popular.

“It is natural for their families to be concerned, but we keep the communication going and update them on what the girls are doing.

“Meanwhile, the girls in the bubble, along with Kim, are a family that functions very well,” Hannon said.



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