When Junpeng Huang first arrived in Auckland six years ago he felt “uncertain and helpless”, but it didn’t take long to find his fit with new friends, a welcoming homestay family, supportive teachers and a school environment he could excel in.
Originally from Dongguan, China, Junpeng’s parents sent him to New Zealand for a top quality education. It has been everything they hoped for and more.
“My family believes schools in New Zealand provide a great education for teenagers, on all sorts of levels and once I got to ACG Sunderland I realised that the school offered me the freedom to express my ability. It’s an environment where I can achieve my goals and become the person I want to be in a much more comfortable way,” explains Junpeng.
Supporting international students to thrive
Embracing a new lifestyle, culture and language was a lot to contend with as a 12-year-old, but once he settled into the Kiwi lifestyle Junpeng began to thrive.
“When I first came to New Zealand I felt very scared of this strange land. I didn’t have friends, I couldn’t speak much English, I was living in a stranger’s house, and going to a school where everyone spoke an unfamiliar language.”
But all that quickly changed. A supportive homestay family offered a welcoming home-away-from-home, making life in a new country much easier to adapt to. In fact Junpeng and his homestay family were such a good fit that six years down the track he is still living with them!
The wraparound support provided by ACG Sunderland has also played a fundamental role.
“ACG Sunderland’s international student dean was so kind, and helped me sort everything out when I first arrived in New Zealand, and my ESOL teacher Dr. Olsen was very kind and patient and has taught me English all the way from beginner level. There are so many interesting and friendly teachers at ACG Sunderland who have supported me with both my academic studies and my mental health, and they are always available to offer me guidance for my future.”
The power of friendship
In the six years Junpeng has been at ACG he has forged enduring friendships that will last a lifetime. In fact, spending time with his friends has become a daily highlight.
“My friends have taught me all sorts of things and helped me both inside and outside of school. Without them, I would not be the person I am today.”
By making the most of the school’s extracurricular activities – from sports to clubs – Junpeng has widened his social circle and broadened his horizons. Captaining the badminton team and being part of the 2023 School Ball Committee are among his most treasured memories.
A future in numbers
Junpeng’s passion and aptitude for maths have seen him excel in the subject. In fact he says there’s nothing he enjoys better than “learning a formula, proving the formula, and finding out all the possible relationships between each symbol”.
It’s not surprising then that next year he has set his sights on majoring in computer science and mathematics at the University of Auckland.
“I've been interested in maths since I was a kid, and have always imagined I would work in a field that is highly related to math. Algorithm development and data analysis are two careers I’m particularly interested in, and one day I hope to start a creative company that can combine my expectations for the future with my love of technology.”
Tips for success
Settling into life and school in New Zealand can be a big learning curve for international students, but Junpeng says the secret to success is being brave, and keeping your sights on the goals you want to achieve.
“When you are new to an environment, don't be afraid, don't be nervous, and don’t feel confused about yourself, everything will be fine! Use your time at high school to discover your true passions and figure out what kind of person you want to become. Find your goal, work for your goal, and achieve your goal.”