Heather Hardiman

Helping international students adjust to a new life, language and culture.

Taking part in the ‘Let's Talk to Aucklanders’ (LTTA) workshops is both a pleasure and a privilege for Heather Hardiman. “We meet fortnightly on Friday mornings and LTTA, which is a part of the English Language Enrichment programme, is a highlight of that week for me.”

Heather says she started in March 2014 because her daughter was a member of the team organising the sessions. “She joked that she knew how much I enjoyed talking to people, which is true. During each workshop we have four twenty-minute conversations, with a break for morning tea and a time at the end for students and volunteers to share something: a new word or expression, a New Zealand idiom or information about an important event, such as Anzac Day, Matariki or Labour Weekend or a current activity in Auckland.”

Heather’s admiration for the students is boundless. “Many arrive here without knowing anyone in New Zealand and, far from home, they must adjust to a new life, language and culture. So many have made sacrifices to study in this country and their dedication and diligence are laudable.”
Over the years Heather has become particularly close to a number of students – and, in some cases, their families – and count them as special friends. “It has been a joy to experience Mexican, Iranian and Egyptian cuisines and I have been shown how to make delicious dumplings.”

Getting to know the staff members and other volunteers, who are (mostly) retired or semi-retired and come from a variety of backgrounds, has also been a joy for Heather. “A number of the volunteers are alumni/alumnae of The University of Auckland and we are delighted to give something back and find out what is happening currently at the university.”

Heather says this programme would not be successful without the right staff. “The programme team members, Dr. Jenny Jones, Dr. Ana Maria Benton and Dr. Jenny Mendieta are perfect for their roles. I can honestly say that "Let's Talk to Aucklanders" has enriched my life and I am grateful for the opportunity to be involved in something so worthwhile.”

For more information about the programme and to see if it might be right for you, go to the LTTA website.