International students return to Wintec
Stuck in China, international student Dawei Wang dreamed about being back at Wintec, standing in front of his favourite painting, Te Korekore (2009) by Zena Elliot. Photo supplied.
Dawei Wang has returned to Wintec from China as one of 1,500 international students invited to complete their study in New Zealand after 18 long months of waiting.
Wang is one of 25 postgraduate international students from China who met the government criteria for a “border exception” to return to Wintec after finding themselves outside New Zealand when borders closed due to Covid in early 2020.
They are completing degrees and some postgraduate level qualifications in the areas of business, information technology (IT), media arts, nursing and engineering.
Wang says he dreamed about standing in front of his favourite painting, Te Korekore by Wintec Medias Arts graduate and now tutor, Zena Elliot in the Wintec City campus Hub in Hamilton.
“I imagined being back and now I am here, it’s such a relief,” he says.
Now he can complete the final semester of his Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Informatics.
Wang says he chose Wintec to qualify in informatics at tertiary level and the skills he is learning are complimenting his many years of experience in the demanding field of medical sales so that he can further his business career.
“Informatics is such a great thing to learn,” he says. “It’s hybrid knowledge which bridges the gap between business and IT, an important way to connect in business.”
“I want to learn new things and continue to challenge myself. And I want to work in IT.”
As a person who likes self-learning and learning by doing, he is looking forward to joining “ big tech company”, Gallagher Group on a work experience internship arranged by Wintec Centre for Information Technology.
The last 18 months have been a roller coaster for Wang. In 2019 he returned home to China for the holidays and bought tickets to come back to Wintec to study for 2020.
In February 2020, he left his home in Chongqing, flew to Guangzhou and checked his luggage in for the flight to New Zealand. While waiting for his flight to be called, the news broke about the borders closing and all flights were grounded.
“I was all ready to go and all my luggage was on the plane. I just felt so lucky I wasn’t 11 hours into my journey to New Zealand because I would have been turned back,” said Wang.
“It was eerie looking at the flight information displays. Every flight was cancelled, everyone had to turn back.”
Returning home to Chongqing, he hunkered down with his wife and their young son, and lived through a strict lockdown for the first month where only one family member could go out to shop every three days. The restrictions continued, and the family adopted ways of coping.
“My grandmother once said these words of wisdom, ‘You may not be able to change your life but you can change your attitude’,” says Wang.
He focused on getting employment and got a good position with a medical sales company and took the opportunity to polish up his English in preparation for the day he could return, along with his family to complete his study in New Zealand.
Wang has adopted a novel approach to learning English.
Since high school days, he has been listening to and singing along to English pop songs. During lockdown in Chongqing he sang his way through an extensive playlist.
“I have a huge playlist,” he says. “It started with Celine Dion’s My Heart will Go On as back then, by listening at a slow pace, I was able to learn the pronunciation.”
He’s since moved on to favourites including alternative rockers Linkin Park, pop punk singer Avril Lavigne and British-Norwegian dance/electronic DJ, Alan Walker, whose tunes he says are “ really good for running”.
“Sometimes I run and I sing,” he smiles.
From a high rise in Chongqing, the fourth largest city in China, with a population of 34 million, the family now live in a house in Hamilton’s Forest Lake with a lawn.
Wang’s love affair with studying in New Zealand and following his dream is having a very happy outcome.
His heart will go on.Hamilton refugees are finding their way at Wintec