A three-week stay in New Zealand last summer was a refreshing and eye-opening experience for 12 students. After winning a writing competition, the students received subsidies to go on a study trip to New Zealand. They were able to study in a local school with students of different nationalities. Organised by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Hong Kong Education and Manpower Bureau and Longman Hong Kong Education, the New Zealand Student Ambassadors Selection Programme provided local students with a chance to experience life overseas. The students attended lessons on weekdays, and spent their weekends visiting farms, horse riding and skiing. The beautiful scenery and relaxing atmosphere were a welcome break from the hectic lifestyle and crowded living environment of Hong Kong. Karen Tse Ming-kit and Bonnie Lo Hang-ming are Form Seven students at Heep Yunn School. They stayed in Dunedin, on the southeast coast of New Zealand's South Island. The girls were extremely impressed by the school's small class sizes. 'Usually a class consisted of only about 10 students. I had a music class with only four students. We had plenty of time to ask the teacher questions,' said Karen. Bonnie said: 'New Zealand has the bluest skies and freshest air. The relaxing atmosphere there is really different from the competitive study culture in Hong Kong.' Living with the host families was also a new experience for them. 'I'm an only child. [But] in New Zealand, I got to live with two sisters and a brother at my host family. Sometimes we argued over which TV channel to watch. 'After my stay there, I learned the importance of sharing with others,' said Paloma Lau Hey-mann, a Form Five student from St Paul's Convent School. Last week, New Zealand Prime Minister Miss Helen Clark visited Hong Kong and chatted with the students who had taken part in the programme. Miss Clark saw the ambassador programme as a good way of promoting cultural exchange between students in her home country and Hong Kong. 'We promote all-round education in New Zealand and always encourage people to come to study and explore new things,' said Miss Clark.