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Community Constable’s visit proves to be a big hit

After concerns were raised within the local Whitianga community about the apparent lack of awareness of safety by students from the Evakona Education Centre, when crossing the road, it was decided by staff to develop and run a road safety awareness programme.  This included a visit to the centre from the local Community Constable.
 |  Jack Biddle  | 

Constable  Johnny Ngauamo with the students at Evakone Education Centre enjoying their road safety lesson. (This was a little fun just for the camera – there were no cars coming.)

Overseas students learn to cross the road safely with local police

Evakona Education Centre is situated next to the Mercury Bay Area School in South Highway.

“Students being aware of local customs and rules outside of the classroom, are matters the Evakona Education Centre takes very seriously. The feedback from the community is welcomed and appreciated,” says Teresa Thompson, Teacher and Homestay Co-ordinator.

“The main purpose of students enrolling with the education centre is to study the English language but to also experience living away from home and in a country where there are obvious, large cultural differences. The majority of our students, aged between 13 and 16, are currently from Japan, along with others from Taiwan and China. It’s a huge change and challenge for them when coming to live in a town like Whitianga. A major part of that experience is learning to fit into the local community and to be aware of basic rules that locals take for granted like crossing the road safely. Students can get a little distracted when they are with friends, listening to music etc and their overall safety away from the classroom is something we take very seriously,” says Teresa.

The recently completed road safety course included a classroom session where students were prepped on mantras around road safety, as well as a practical activity which included walking a pedestrian crossing in groups under the watchful eye of local Community Constable, Johnny Ngauamo. This was followed by a question-and-answer session where students asked Constable Ngauamo a variety of questions about life as a policeman, all in English of course. He certainly won the students over with his friendly nature and knowledge as well as his physical presence and size.

Students were then given assignments to write about the course and what they had learnt. Below are some of the comments made.

• Today, I learned about crossing the road. I said the mantra ‘Chat equals flat’. It means do not chat with your friends while you cross the road. Other teams said, ‘Stop and listen’, ‘Look and look again’, ‘Do not run!

• A policeman named Johnny taught me what we should do while we cross the road, and we walk on the sidewalk.  Johnny taught us that we must not dawdle; we must wear a helmet on the bike and we must not cross the road without looking left and right. 

• I don’t do the road rules sometimes, so I thought I have to think about it every day.   

• I tried to have (wear) a vest Johnny is wearing every day. It was so heavy, because it is 20kg. I’m surprised and respected. 

• In the future, I will be careful while I cross the road.

• So I think we must always remember what the policeman taught us today, because as a result, it will help us to save our own lives.

• To keep this town safe, we need to be careful.

These comments are an impressive effort when one considers the students are only into week 14 of their minimum 44 week stay in Whitianga.

Maybe learning is a two-way street as well. These students have made Whitianga their temporary home and fitting into the local community is all part of a fantastic life experience for them.  Taking a leaf from Constable Johnny’s book and showing some compassion and understanding at times would go a long way in making their stay truly enjoyable and memorable.