By: Samantha Motion

Front L-R: Olive Fitzjohn and Hyun Taek Yang, Greg Brownless, Anne Young and Matt Simeon with Tauranga educators who are travelling to South Korea this month. Photo/George Novak

A delegation of 31 Tauranga educators is heading to South Korea to market the Bay schooling experience to Korean families.

The group, representing 26 Tauranga schools and institutes, was scheduled to begin arriving in Seoul today.

The group will host two education fairs in Seoul and one in Busan before some of the group heads home and others carry on to Japan.

Education Tauranga regional manager Anne Young said it was the biggest delegation ever sent from the region on the trip, which has been running for 10 years.

Education Tauranga organised the events in partnership with the Tauranga Korean Times.

Mrs Young said Korea was Tauranga’s largest source market for international students in the compulsory schooling sector.

Around 450 Korean families were residing in the region – thought to be the largest number anywhere in New Zealand outside Auckland.

Pillans Point School principal Matt Simeon said he had been to South Korea in each of the past three years.

It was important to keep going back to build relationships with the families that came to the fairs, he said.

“I’ve seen some families two years in a row and it’s not until the third year that they make a commitment.”

He said there were a lot of benefits associated with having the Korean families in Tauranga, from the added cultural diversity in classrooms to the new friendships outside of school.

“My son and one of the Korean girls are great mates and her family have become family friends. When I go to Korea, I am going to meet up with the dad. So it’s not only the school but the family connection.”

He said one of the attractions for the families was the limit of one international student per class, which meant the students could learn English quickly and make Kiwi friends easily.

At a group briefing earlier this month, Hyun Taek Yang from the Times spoke about South Korea’s war with North Korea and the heightened tensions in the region.

Incidents like North Korea’s recent missile tests were concerning, but he believed the worst delegates might see were some public protests.

“Normal life goes on in Korea.”

The group was registered with the New Zealand embassy in South Korea just in case.

Source: Bay of Plenty Times

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