A Brief History
The Meeker - New Zealand Exchange Program has its beginnings in 1989. It all started when a Meeker Middle School teacher, Dick Turnbull, decided to try to connect his students to those in another country via email. He found a willing partner in John Withell in Invercargill, New Zealand. While the exchange started with just emails, it wasn't long before representatives were traveling from one country to the other.
In any given year, about sixteen American and sixteen New Zealand students take part in the exchange. There are well over 500 students and adults who have made the journey in one direction or the other.
Being a Host
Each September, a group of Kiwis (a term for New Zealanders) venture from Invercargill, New Zealand to Tacoma, Washington. Their mission is to learn as much as possible about American culture. They accomplish this by living with families of students in the 6th, 7th or 8th grade at Meeker Middle School. While in Tacoma, the Kiwis go to school and go on field trips to learn more about the local area and the United States of America.
The host parent group prepares for the Kiwis by arranging field trips to local venues, such as Pioneer Farms, NW Trek, Tillicum Village, or the Museum of Glass. They also prepare a welcome and farewell dinner for the Kiwis.
Being an Ambassador
Each February, a group of 6th and 7th grade students from Meeker Middle School heads to the James Hargest Junior Campus in Invercargill, New Zealand. Through three weeks of living with a Kiwi family and participating in a variety of field trips, students gain an understanding of life in the Southland region as well as the Māori culture of New Zealand. By reflecting their experiences in a journal, ambassadors can share their experiences with other students at Meeker upon their return.
Obviously, a trip of this nature requires plenty of work. In fact, preparation begins nine months before the trip! The ambassador parent group must plan and complete fund raisers to pay for the field trips in New Zealand. Also, the students must prepare by planning both a group performance and develop independent projects about American culture.
To be an ambassador, you must:
Be a 6th or 7th grade student at Meeker during the year of your trip.
Maintain a G.P.A. of 2.5 or higher.
Remain on Honor Level 1 or 2.
Complete a written application and interview process.
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Comments, questions, or submissions to this web site can be directed to:
Meeker - New Zealand Student Exchange Program
Meeker Middle School
4402 Nassau Ave NE
Tacoma WA 98422