Racism affects visiting students
Last updated 12:30 08/08/2009

International students in Nelson often feel the brunt of racial abuse, especially when out in the community.

A report released on Monday said 90 per cent of non-Europeans in Nelson had experienced some form of racial abuse. Almost 80 per cent of the participants in the report were aged between 13 and 19.

Nayland College principal Rex Smith, who attended the meeting where the report was launched, said he went because it was known that some of the school's 90 international students were sometimes subjected to racial abuse. "It doesn't happen a lot but it does happen."

There were 772 international students in the Nelson region last year.

Mr Smith said incidents generally related to issues outside the school grounds, which could be difficult to deal with, especially if the perpetrator was not known.

"Students also feel a lot more intimidated outside the school grounds because there is not so much support and they are not in such a controlled environment."

He said that when international students started at Nayland, they were given an orientation on how to deal with racial abuse if it occurred. This was generally about being non-confrontational, reporting the incident and trying to get the offender's details.

Nelson College headmaster Gary O'Shea said that after an incident two years ago when three South Korean students were attacked near the school grounds, much work had been done with the school's international students.

"The overall feeling from the student body is (international students) do get some abuse going to and from school but not within school."

Mr O'Shea said the school was a supportive community, and one of the biggest concerns after the 2007 attack was boarders wanting to go out and seek retribution.

He said about 35 of the school's 160 boarders were international students. About three-quarters of international students were from Asian nations, and they received the most abuse.

"Reasonably regularly, an international student might get hurled some abuse at them from a car by some idiots, but within school they are very happy."

Mr O'Shea said students were encouraged to talk with their housemasters, the international dean and senior students.

"(Abuse) happens, and we are aware of it, but the kids are aware of it as well. Senior boarders take them under their wing."

Nelson College for Girls principal Christine Barlow said some of the school's international students were interviewed for the racism report but the results were that they felt quite safe.

Mrs Barlow said the school had a strong "buddy" system to help get students involved, and the deputy head boarder was an international student from South Korea. "She has been instrumental in providing support, and keen to make sure there is integration among students."
Ad Feedback

She said the school was proactive if there were any problems with racial abuse in the community, and encouraged students to report them. "That way, we can sort it out."

From here.