Neil Clements, student exchange coordinator, with young Austrian exchange student Clara Liebmann and Dargaville Rotary Club president Peter Garelja at Clara’s welcome luncheon

From Austria to Dargaville

by Andy Bryenton

Dargaville High School’s newest student has arrived for class this week, all the way from the town of Irdning Donnersbachtal in Austria.

Clara Liebmann chose New Zealand, and specifically Dargaville, as her ‘home away from home’ for a one-year student exchange programme, and now that she is here, the young international traveller is impressed with the warm welcome she has received.

“It’s really nice here; the people, especially, are very kind,” said Clara, attending a welcome luncheon hosted by the Dargaville Rotary Club.

Part of the exchange student’s mission, fully immersed in Kiwi culture, is to master the intricacies of ‘New Zealand English’ while staying with four host families, three months at a time.

Alongside study at Dargaville High School, where she will attend classes alongside other students, all in English, this hosted living will cover both town and country life in the Kaipara.

Student exchange programme coordinator Neil Clements, who has helped host new arrivals (and place Dargaville youngsters overseas with foreign families) since 1995, is very positive about the ongoing exchange programme, and the way it fosters international fellowship.

The town of Irdning, situated in the alpine region of central Austria, has a similar population to Dargaville but is worlds apart in terms of language, traditions, history and industry.

DHS students are doing all they can to make their new international guest feel right at home.