International Rep Update: Services, Getting to Know Christchurch, and Events

Welcome to the first International Newsletter!

First of all, who am I?

Kia ora, my name is Matt, and this year I have a privilege of being the International Representative for the UCSA. I am in my 5th Year here at UC, having recently completed a Mechanical Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) and am finishing a Finance BCom this year. I am very excited to be in the role for 2021 and have been loving it so far.

Secondly, what will this newsletter be about?
I want this newsletter to be all about you! This newsletter will serve as a way to share with you what is going on in the International Student space.

The newsletter will:

  • Provide updates into what progress is being made in International Student voice.
  • Feature upcoming International Student club events.
  • Highlight International student experiences here at UC.
  • And more!

If you want something addressed or something featured, then get in contact! (See below for contact details.)

Here is a summary of what is in this newsletter:

  1. What do I do as the International Rep?
  2. COVID-19
  3. March 15th
  4. ECHO 360 Recordings Update
  5. Need Help?
  6. Other UCSA Services
  7. Feeling lost around Christchurch?
  8. International Student Events & Highlights

How can you have your voice heard?

What do I do as the International Rep?
My role exists to advocate for you, the International student community. Not to bring my own opinion but to amplify all of yours.

To achieve this, I chair the International Advisory Group (IAG), which consists of 14 International Students who provide feedback and input on international student issues. This input is directly put into the meetings I attend and ensures that the UCSA is delivering the international student voice at the University.

The major meetings that this input is fed into are the International Committees for all five Colleges – Arts, Science, Business and Law, Engineering and Education, Health and Human Development. These committees discuss all matters regarding to International Students.

Additionally, last year the previous representative Derrick Edward helped to establish the International Student Working Experience Group (ISEWG), which brings together all the International Deans of the Colleges into one meeting. The purpose of this is purely focused on the International Student experience. This group is key to helping International Deans understand International Student’s experience and wellbeing.

COVID-19 has been challenging across the globe. I would like to take this as an opportunity to acknowledge all our International Students for their strength in this time. The pandemic has been especially hard for International Students. It has prevented many students from being able to travel home and also prevented many students from travelling/returning to campus. This has brought both financial and emotional stress to many of you. You may have financial pressures at home or social isolation studying online. So, it is important to stay connected during this time and for you to know the UCSA is here for you.

March 15th
This month marks two years since the terrorist attack on members of the Muslim community. It was a hateful and stark statement of the racism here in New Zealand. However, it is important that we show our aroha (love) and support for our Muslim community in this difficult time.

As members of a diverse community, we should be lifting each other up every single day and give nothing to racism. To our Muslim brothers and sisters that we lost on March 15th, Inna lillahi wa inna lillahi rajioon – to God we belong and to God we shall return.

ECHO 360 Recordings Update
Last year’s executive worked hard to ensure that all lectures are recorded in future. Sometimes lectures are unable to be recorded because of content but if you think your lecture should be, get in contact with your class rep or your UCSA Representative. You can read the Vice President’s update on this here.

Need Help?
If you need assistance or guidance, the University offer a range of support services that can be found at this link here.

The UCSA operates independently from the University so can give you advice the university may not. Ee-Li and the team at UCSA Advocacy and Welfare are very friendly and have lots of experience with International Student issues.

It is important to get in touch early if you have a problem, so it doesn’t get worse! You can book an appointment here.

Other UCSA Services
The UCSA also run a wide range of activities and services on campus and these include:

  • UCSA Dental
  • Optometry
  • Menstruation Emergency
  • Borrow a Calculator
  • Borrow a Bike
  • Advisory Groups
  • V-Plate discounts in UCSA Shops/Cafes
  • Club Support
  • UCSA Events (Orientation, MONO and The Foundry)
  • CANTA magazine

You can find out more on the website at!

Feeling lost around Christchurch?
The University and Christchurch can be disorientating if you are new or old. Checkout the UCSA’s International Student Support page for more information.

It features useful links and the International Students’ Survival Guide booklet (useful for all students). It has got great tips on where to shop, support services as well as general information about what life is like in New Zealand.

International Student Events & Highlights
Our first International Student Event Highlight is Bangladeshi Students’ Association, University of Canterbury (BSAUC). Thank you to Dr. Mesbahuddin Chowdhury for contributing.

International Mother Language Day
BSAUC recently celebrated International Mother Language Day 2021 where people of all languages and cultures respect their mother language. Mohammad Mishfakul Kabir (Avra) ran the programme and it commenced with a special prayer seeking divine blessing for the departed souls who sacrificed their lives for the Bangla language in 1952. Treasurer Moutushi Tanha spoke about the historical background and explained the significance of the day. She expressed, “The day embraces me with sadness as well as extreme joy! Because of this mighty day, we can speak in my mother tongue.”

The event included patriotic songs, group songs, recitations of poems, solo and couple music. The cultural program started with a song, “Ora amar mukher bhasha kaira nite chai”, covered by Md Ayrangajeb, representing the language movement in 1952.

The program also featured, a number of performances from other International students. For example, a Korean poem was recited by Youri, a Korean PhD student and a Polish poem was recited by another PhD student Daniel. Two Chinese UC students, Xiyin and Mengping Chen, also contributed to the programme by reciting a Chinese poem and sharing one traditional Chinese food recipe. The program concluded with patriotic songs from Shourav, Dr. Sharnali Atashi Tisi, Monali Alam and Md. Ayrangazeb.

Keep an eye on the @UCNZ.Life Instagram page for an upcoming online cooking competition for all students. The competition is focused on Asian-style cooking with a $250 cash prize up for grabs! Looking forward to seeing your dishes.

And check out these other events! Get in touch with these clubs or check out Facebook for more information and tickets:

  • UC Spanish – Games and Movies Night – 5pm Friday 19th March in Rehua 226
  • CMSA – International Food Festival – 30th April, Location TBC

International Student Feature
Do you want to feature in the newsletter? I want you to share your experiences here at UC! What have you been able to achieve? What friends have you made? What do you love most about the campus? I want you to tell me!

How can you have your voice heard?
My role cannot succeed if I do not hear from you! Please say hello if you see me, I am trying my best to attend International Club events, but I am around campus, too. You can also join your International Clubs; talk to people you know in the IAG and email me! I want to know you and what issues you and your peers are facing.

You can reach me at
Thank you very much for reading this newsletter and I look forward to hearing from you!

Ngā mihi nui,

Matt Wong-Kam

Matt Wong-Kam

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