AUT’s International Whānau Council will this year make it to Vermont in the USA for the first time following a special grant by Education New Zealand’s International Education Growth Fund.
The grant of $30,800, designed to help AUT’s International Whānau Council further promote the offerings of AUT and Te Ara Poutama – AUT’s Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Development – into new international markets, will also enable the university to further develop its international alumni links.
Established in 2012, each year the AUT International Whānau Council brings together more than 80 international AUT alumni from 11 European nations where they take part in cultural activities and discussions that anchor the significance of their AUT experience.
The Whānau Council programme is a student-driven initiative facilitated in part by by Te Ara Poutama Senior Lecturer Jason King along with AUT’s International office and the Office of Māori Advancement.
“The concept derived from discussions with former AUT international students as a platform to connect with alumni – whānau – of AUT once they returned to their home countries,” explains King.
“This grant from ENZ will make it possible for us to now go further and foster the continuation of cultural exchange between North American AUT alumni and their Māori whānau, through our newly-established North American Whānau Council (NAWC).”
This year, the AUT International Whānau Council will meet in Naples, Italy from 4-6 September, and in Vermont, USA the following weekend.
The European Whānau Council (EWC) members are alumni from AUT’s International Student Noho Marae, a programme which comprises of three days of immersion activities relating to the Māori culture, customs and protocol, and the concept of ‘whānau’ or ‘whakawhanaungatanga’ – strong kinship connections.
“Events like the Noho Marae and the Whānau Council programme meet-ups provide an opportunity for us to engage with universities overseas to promote further international enrolments, as well as build relationships with key employers linked to our alumni,” says King.
“Later on down the track, we hope to be able to expand our International Whānau Council programme into new markets in South America and Asia.”