I am pleased to write this letter in order to apply for the 7th Thai – NZ Language and Cultural Student Exchange Programme

I am pleased to write this letter in order to apply for the 7th Thai – NZ Language and Cultural Student Exchange Programme. My name is Ella Jade Burney and I am fifteen years old, I am currently in year ten at Hillcrest High School in Hamilton. Ever since learning about the stories of my parents travels in Thailand I have been interested in seeing the beauty of Thailand myself. From anyone I have ever spoken to about Thailand, I always hear about the friendly and welcoming nature of the Thai people, the rich culture and history and the amazing cuisine.

Earlier this year I spent five weeks at an outdoor based program on Great Barrier Island, through my school Hillcrest High and Hillary Outdoors. On this program I learnt the Great Barrier core values of determination, responsibility, sustainability, independence and leadership. I think these attributes would make me a good candidate for this trip because they allow me to work well with others as well as to be very adaptable to new environments. I spent my time there with thirty other girls making connections with the community by helping with the maintenance and restoration of local forests and getting to know the people living near us. I also had heaps of fun spending time with the local primary school children playing games and teaching them how to dance. Although Great Barrier is a part of New Zealand it is quite different to the mainland because it is a closer and more connected community. Since going to Great Barrier I have been seeking opportunities to learn more about different communities, so when the prospect of this trip to Thailand came up it seemed like the perfect one.

When I was five years old I was introduced to football and dance. For many years I played football, I learnt how to be part of a team, to be self-disciplined, and persistent. I love dancing because it allows me to continue to learn more and improve, through dance I am also able to express my ideas and emotions creatively. I also really enjoy being a part of theatre productions, at the start of this year I was in “The Little Mermaid” put on by my school, Hillcrest High I had so much fun putting my talents to use when performing the show.

Another thing I enjoy is learning new languages, I have a genuine passion for them. In school one of my favourite subjects is French. I am also teaching myself Portuguese and would most definitely be keen to pick up Thai. I believe it is so beneficial to learn languages as it helps with cognitive skills and also allows me to better understand the world around me. In the future I hope to travel the world and I think being able to speak languages will give me so much more of an experience because I will be able to interact with more people and immerse myself in different cultures.

Going on this trip would help me to achieve one of my future goals which is to travel as much of the world as I can. I believe that travel is full of moments of joy and challenges, it is these moments that help us discover who we are as people. Being able to travel would allow me to open my eyes to everything outside of my familiar lifestyle and give me a different perspective on the world. This trip would benefit me so much because I’d be able to experience Thailand not just as a tourist but let me live like a local and get a genuine taste for life in the Thai culture. I think it is so important to learn about other cultures as I can learn new things through the unique interactions that I have with each and every person I meet. I value building positive and lasting friendships that make an impact in the lives of those who I interact with as well as in my own. By going on this trip I would be able to share my story, culture, skills and passions with those in the Thai community as well as learn from their culture and what they have to teach me.