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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 17, No. 4. March 25, 1953

The International Spirit in Action

The International Spirit in Action

The overseas students evening held last Thursday in the Little Theatre proved itself another success. The most important effect of this social gathering is the possibility of forming an International Club at Victoria to supplement the activities of the city club. A meeting will be held soon to decide this, and to determine the nature of the club's activities.

The convener of the evening was Miss Pauline Hoskins; no more suitable person to stimulate (by example! the How of conversation can be imagined. (We hope that this passing reference will not be taken as an "attack.") The organisation, however remained very similar to that of last year's gathering. One very good innovation was the use if name tags giving each person's names and country of origin. This did away with the necessity of formal introductions in many cases, and more valuably, one did not have to attempt to pronounce some of the names. This "name tag" system did much to encourage fraternisation and the same idea might be of some use for freshers during the first few weeks.

The number of people attending was approximately eighty, comprising about forty New Zealand born students, and the rest born in overseas countries, though naturally a large percentage of these were New Zealand citizens. The lengths some N. Z.ers went to claim foreign origin were surprising: one attractive young girl sported a name-tag giving "Utopia" as the country of origin—obviously she was someone's dream girl. Another student traced his ancestry to Scotland (1875) from Norway (1000 A.D.). There were twenty-two states represented: Pakistan, India, Ceylon. Holland, U.S.A., Canada. Malaya, China, Italy, Mauritius, Fiji, England, Scotland, Poland, Switzerland, Hungary. Australia, U.S.S.R., North Borneo, Latvia, Germany, and Israeli. A notable omission from this list is France.

The convener, Miss Pauline Hoskins in the middle of the evening, having welcomed the guests, called upon Professor McGeehan "who by a happy co-incidence is on my right" to welcome the overseas students on behalf of Dr. Williams who was unfortunately unable to be present. This he did and congratulated the student body on the function. He admired the idea and hoped that the evening would be continued. The President of V.U.C.S.A. (Mr. M. J. O'Brien) then welcomed the guests on behalf of the Association, and mentioned the presence of two people at the gathering who had had International House experience. Mrs. Celia Manson and the Reverend Gardiner-Scott. He expressed the wish that the overseas students would fit into this way of life without discomfort. He promised that the Executive would do all in its power to make them feel at home.

Miss Hoskins then discussed the possibilities of doing something further about making such gatherings permanent. There was a need for this as many overseas students boarded in rooms or hostels and had no easy way of meeting other people. It was up to the overseas students to say whether or not there be an overseas club. She suggested a fortnightly meeting, with talks by foreign students. An American student then offered his co-operation and support; our Dutch friend Mr. Nic Pyl followed, then another, and another. Just at the contagious stage Mr. O'Brien suggested that a meeting be held to decide the matter and it was left at that.

When one moved amongst the students—it was very easy to make friends—one was impressed by the wide variety of human experiences of which each could tell. A large number there were whose parents had fled occupied Europe at the beginning of World War II; now, too, there were some who were ex-patriated from Communist-controlled sections of Europe. We spoke on one hand to a Netherlander who spent years in a German forced labour camp, and on the other hand to two Polish girls whose parents were still in Russian Poland. We cannot go into personal details, but in the stories of many of these people was something to make many of us self-satisfied students become aware of the effects of many of the words which we bandy around so loosely—words such as intolerance, force, power discrimination smearing. Most New Zealanders profited from mixing and conversing with the overseas students and the whole spirit of the evening was one of unrestrained case and friendship. Such it should be.

Our report to be exact and concise would merely have to say that "the overseas students met some New Zealand students and they talked and talked, and had supper. This, however correct, gives a very Inadequate picture of the spirit of the meeting. The only way you can get this is by turning up yourself. Turn up to the meeting to decide on the club's form and offer your help.