Kiwi hospitality exceeds expectations

Nurul Iffah Abdul Rahim (Iffah) came to Wellington on a scholarship and has been pleasantly surprised at just how hospitable Kiwis really are

As a shy, introverted person from Malaysia, I spent my first year at Victoria University of Wellington not taking advantage of how helpful and kind the Wellington community could be, and all the communities you can become a part of.

I believe that there is something here for everyone. I’ve gained so much from being a part of university clubs and volunteering. I made a lot of new friends from different countries, learned leadership skills and have become more confident in myself.

One of the groups I joined was the Victoria university’s Muslim Students’ Association. After the Christchurch Terror attacks I felt like I had a responsibility to act and through people connected to the association, I helped organise a number of community events aimed at encouraging conversation about how we learn from such a tragic event.

It was mostly because I believe I have an obligation to help my fellow Muslim brothers and sisters, but there are also a lot of international students in our club who felt vulnerable because most of them had no family here in New Zealand they could turn to for comfort.

But it wasn’t just the international community in Wellington that came together. The whole community, including the university and other domestic students, created a wall where students could draw or write messages of love and support to the Muslim community on campus.

The wall has since been photographed by the national museum Te Papa for their digital archives.

Instead of the message of hate and fear, these are the kind of messages that should be showcased. It shows how supportive the people of New Zealand are.

When I received a scholarship to study in New Zealand I had heard about ‘Kiwi hospitality’ but truly didn’t understand how much the university community wanted to help you here.

There are so many services available to you, both to help in your studies and for your physical and mental health as well.

Lecturers, tutors and staff love students who engage and ask. While it can be confusing to begin with, you can seek advice for anything to do with your enrolment, courses, or life here in Wellington.

Exterior of Te Papa at night

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