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The global village converges in Otara at MIT

Friday, 16 June 2006

The global village converges in Otara at MIT’s student village

The vibrant Manukau Institute of Technology’s student village is testament to the fact that geographical boundaries are no deterrent when it comes to pursuing a dream.

Situated a short walk from both MIT campuses in the heart of Otara, the village brings together people from across the world. It is designed to provide residents with an environment that supports their learning and is a home away from home, especially as most of the residents are international students.

R. Elaveni V. Ramasamy of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, came to the village after she enrolled in a cookery course to keep her occupied while her daughter, Shambhabi Ramayah, studies nursing at MIT.

“I came over to accompany my daughter, but did not want to sit around with nothing to do, so I decided to take up the culinary course as I have always enjoyed cooking.”

After completing the MIT Certificate in Cookery (Level 3), Elaveni took up the Level 4 Certificate in Advanced Cookery and will progress onto the Level 5 Diploma in Culinary Practice next semester.

Elaveni loves the multi-cultural and secure environment of the village and being situated close by to campus and amenities in Otara like the shopping complex, swimming pool and public library.

“It is so convenient and we feel very secure here. It is great having so many people from different cultures and religions in the house. We feel at home here as we are from a multi-racial society.”

The student house, in which Elaveni and her daughter live, boasts representatives from Tonga, Burma, India, China, Korea and even New Zealand.

As the house’s senior resident, Elaveni ensures the household runs smoothly by keeping account of contributions towards household materials and rostering domestic duties.

The social events and trips arranged by the village are another benefit of staying in residence, according to the residents, as they get to experience what New Zealand has to offer.

“We went to the Pasifika festival this year. I have also gone ice skating for the first time,” says Elaveni.

Azeez Ashiru of Nigeria, meanwhile, has lived in the village for three years. At first he missed the hustle of Lagos, a city of 15 million people, but has now adjusted to the quieter life in New Zealand.

“It feels like home now. I have made true friends here, who are like family to me. Living in this community has helped with feeling homesick.”

Azeez is an engineering student and shares his house with people from Russia, India and New Zealand.

Living in the village, Azeez feels part of the Otara community where he plays basketball with the locals. While he has travelled a fair bit around the North Island, he is yet to cross the Cook Strait.

“I need to still go to the South Island. I have heard how beautiful it is there and want to go and check it out.”

In the meantime, Azeez is delighted the village is hooked up to satellite television, as he will be able to follow the soccer World Cup, even though Nigeria is not in the competition.

Football may not be a big thing for Cook Islander Anita Harmon, but living close to relatives in Manukau and the airport is. Anita has just spent her first semester at the village and has come to MIT to study a Bachelor of Business.

“The village is so close to everything. That is the main reason I came here.”

In addition to meeting people of different nationalities, Anita likes the facilities on offer at the village.

“I like the village itself. There are a good bunch of people living and working here and I made friends from the start.”

For one of Anita’s housemates, Tuni Tauiliili of American Samoa, learning new things such as local slang and playing soccer has been awesome. “I would never have learnt to play it back home.”

Another highlight for Tuni - who received a scholarship from the American Samoa Power Authority to study electrical engineering at MIT - has been tasting the different kinds of food. “Everyone makes specialities from home.”

Like Azeez, Tuni says the village feels like a large global family. “It is one big community. Everybody knows each other and we all look out for one another – these are your brothers and sisters for the time you are here.”

The village can accommodate more than 120 students in 14 houses, each with nine bedrooms in two wings. Every house has its own kitchen, bathroom, laundry, lounge and internet access.

MIT is taking enrolments now for courses starting in July and has vacancies available at the Student Village. For more information contact MIT on 0800 62 62 52, or visit


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