Emily Johnston

Emily Johnstone

What are you studying?

I’m in the first year of a Bachelor of Teaching (Primary) at the Tauranga campus.

Where are you from?

I was born and bred in Gate Pa, Tauranga. Now I live in Mount Maunganui.

Why did you choose the University of Waikato?

I didn’t come to uni straight from Bethlehem College. Instead, I took two years out and worked with kids as a camp counselor at a Summer Camp in Ontario, Canada. Then last year I went to Kenya for a month with my brother Chris to continue the volunteer work my parents had started at the Ark Quest Education Centre.

What do you like about studying at the University of Waikato?

I enjoy studying in Tauranga. I enjoyed sport at school – I played a bit of basketball, netball for the Bay of Plenty, beach and indoor volleyball for the Bay and New Zealand – so I like everything the Bay has to offer in terms of outdoor activities. I still play club indoor volleyball now but am pretty full-on with study. I like that uni is close to the Mount so I can head to the beach for a surf after class.

The thing I like about this degree is putting what I learn into practice. My practicum is at Arataki School and I spend one day a week there. I absolutely love it – the kids are awesome!

What are your hopes for the future?

I’ve got a strong connection to Africa and have since travelling there a few times with my family when I was young. My goal is to graduate with a degree in teaching and get some experience under my belt, hopefully in Tauranga, and head back to Kenya. I want to do what I can to support Ark Quest’s efforts in educating the children of the village.

What inspires you?

The village where the Ark Quest is situated is 9.5 hrs out of Nairobi. There are only a few shops and they're basically just shacks. People live day-to-day, just trying to survive. The state of living is just so different from New Zealand. People in Kenya are trying to get to reach a baseline of good health, food and clothing – really basic things that we take for granted. Even with the little they have, there is so much to be inspired by. The way they do family relationships and community, prioritising all the right things and not getting caught up in the small things.