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Christchurch takes most of top prizes in annual sister-cities awards

19 April 2005

Christchurch scooped three of this year’s five sister-cities awards at the recent Sister Cities New Zealand Conference in the Bay of  Islands.

International Christchurch Youth (ICY), a group supported by Christchurch City Council International Relations, was rewarded for its work on a number of youth related projects including its organisation of local school international days and the first Christchurch Sister Cities Young Artists Competition.  The group was placed first in the Awards’ Best Youth, Education or School Project category and second in the Best Cultural, Sport or Recreation Project category, winning a total of $3,000 in air travel, sponsored by Air New Zealand. 

Merrin School was placed second in the Best Youth, Education or School Project category for its sister-school exchange with Se Ryun School in Songpa Gu, Seoul, Korea. It  received $500 worth of air travel, also from Air New Zealand.

ICY was formed after the National Sister Cities Conference Youth Workshop in Christchurch in 2004.  The Young Artists competition was the group’s second major project, inviting all 13-18 year olds in the city to submit a piece of artwork to a local competition and exhibition.  The winning entry is to be sent to the International Sister Cities Young Artists Competition in Washington DC, USA, which will be on display during the Sister Cities International Annual Conference, 27-30 July, 2005.

ICY member Suzy Garnett said, “it is a really good feeling to know that what our committee has been doing has been recognised.  We are planning to use the money for funding trips to future conferences.” 

She said the group could not have been so active in the past year without the support of Sue McFarlane, CCC International Relations co-ordinator or Marcella Herrera, Sister Cities New Zealand youth advisor.

Merrin School’s award has marked a five year relationship with Se Ryun School, which developed from an initial exchange of artworks to the present day, where students from Se Ryun are living in the Merrin community and attending Merrin School to further their English skills. Past activities have included two visits from Se Ryun School to Merrin School; a visit by Merrin students, staff and parents to Se Ryun; and assistance from Merrin School to Aranui High School in setting up a similar exchange programme with Ogum High School in Songpa Gu. 

Mary Yonker, teacher in charge of the exchange programme said, “the sister-city exchange between Merrin and Se Ryun Elementary schools has been a very exciting and rewarding project to be involved in.  We are delighted that we have been awarded second place in this national competition and will put the money towards funding our next exchange visit in September, this year.”

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