The Omani student association’s 7th annual gathering in New Zealand was held between the 6th-8th of April in the city of sails - Auckland.
What started as a sudden impulse in 2006 became a valued and a well-established tradition for the Omani students in NZ. Annually, the association hosts an event where Omani students from various cities across New Zealand get together to engage in activities that enforces mutual interaction and exchange of experiences in both academic and personal aspects. The unique feature of the event is that, the allocated venue changes annually from city to city in New Zealand. This encourages self-exploration of new landscapes and scenery and probe students' aspiration to venture in new places, experiences and challenges.
The 7th Annual gathering called “Auckland Ghair” which means Auckland is different was indeed different. Firstly, it was the biggest gathering ever held in NZ and actually embodied all of the gatherings’ aims. It required teamwork, mutual interaction and stamina. One of the pleasant attributes about this gathering is the fact that Omani Aucklanders hosted students from the other cities in their own homes in order to reinforce old bonds and create new ones.
Auckland Ghair started by a joyous reception in which introductions were made and a traditional meal was shared. The highlight of the gathering the amazing race was held on the next day , which was breath-taking literally and figuratively. The participants were required to solve clues in order to reach certain landmarks some of which that Omani Aucklanders themselves haven’t explored. ‘’ I have been to Auckland several times before but this was my first time visiting some of the main landmarks of Auckland “ said Aseel Al Habsy from Christchurch.
The official opening ceremony started by speeches from both Hamad Al Ma’walli the president of the Omani Student Association in NZ and Khadija Al-Raisi the president of Auckland Omani student Association. The guest of honour, the Honorary Consulate General Valerie Farmer, gave an encouraging speech and a warm welcome and read a letter to the Omani students from the New Zealand Minister of Tertiary Education, the Honourable Steven Joyce. The night continued at a luxurious boat cruise where dinner was served. On the final day the students gathered at a park, played sports, and had a barbeque. The closing ceremony took place later on in a lecture theatre and was followed by a farewell dinner.
This gathering was really different because it witnessed a major contribution from the girls in organizing, as well as the active participation in all activities and this is exactly what Rahma Al- Harthy a medical student from Dunedin and Zakiya Al Azri a PHD student from Auckland both emphasized on. Most importantly, what made Auckland ghair a success was the integrated collaboration between the boys and girls.
All in all, the gathering was phenomenal with a nostalgic scent to it. We entered the gathering as different people from different cities and backgrounds but came out as one family, one heart, and one vision.