Elsa, a junior at Dartmouth College in the US, explored indigenous language revitalisation during summer school at the University of Auckland.
“Being from an indigenous community in the US, I had heard lots about the amazing work Māori people have done, and continue to do, for cultural and language revitalisation in New Zealand. My Uncle and Aunt visited New Zealand about ten years ago to learn from the kōhanga reo initiative here before building an immersion school in our language, Ojibwemowin. Hearing about their visit and the immense natural beauty of New Zealand, I knew I wanted to come here at some point in my life. When I heard my home university had a study abroad programme to the University of Auckland, I applied immediately.
“I grew up in a rural area and go to school in a small town, so it has been really exciting to be in a city like Auckland. There are so many people from different backgrounds and cultures, many different languages spoken, and access to restaurants with food from around the world. I loved going to the lantern festival for Chinese New Year, trying my first kebab, and seeing signage in the Māori language all over campus.”
“I am a Native American Studies major, passionate about indigenous language revitalisation and the ways indigenous cultures and histories are presented in mainstream education systems. The courses I took – Māori 101 Introduction to written Māori, and Māori 130 Te Ao Māori: the Māori World – perfectly aligned with my interests.”
The best part was being taught by Māori professors – it was so refreshing to learn about Māori culture, language, and history from the perspective of the people themselves.
“I hope to become a teacher of my language Ojibwemowin, and advocate for indigenous representation in mainstream education systems. My study abroad experience will definitely help me achieve my career aspirations. It has been invaluable to learn about the work Māori have done and is so inspiring to see how prominent their language and culture is within their own communities and the broader New Zealand society.”