Bishop Viard has more refugee students than any other Wellington school

Rose Sawaya, principal of the Porirua’s Bishop Viard College,  says her school has more refugee students than any other Wellington school.

And she is incredibly proud of her school and its students.

At a recent mufti day which coincided with International Refugee Day, students shared stories, food and performed cultural dances.

Sawaya says a lovely thing happened recently; one of the Samoan students learned the dance of her Colombian classmates and performed with them.

She says inclusiveness is something she values a lot.

And that’s why she is keen to be with the students every step of the way.

Extra steps are taken to help the new students feel comfortable.

During the week there are 2 teacher aides who speak Spanish and 2 who speak a variety of Burmese dialects.

“We have the teacher aides present when we have meetings with the students or at parent teacher meetings and even when we send newsletters to the parents we get them translated in their language,” she says.

Sawaya is keen for New Zealand to increase its refugee quota.

“We support it completely, it’s part of our ethical beliefs as a catholic school.”

“They have a right to freedom, a peaceful life and when they come here they share their culture with us and that’s a beautiful thing,” she says.


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