Going the extra mile

Friendly teachers and small class sizes are just two things this trio of learners have enjoyed.

Yue Gong, Sylvia (Yuhan) Sun and Michelle Lai


The staff were very good. They were very patient and explained anything I needed to know.

A trio of Chinese tourism students at Otago Polytechnic have been going the extra mile to further their chances of gaining a job in a fast-growing industry.

Yue Gong, Sylvia (Yuhan) Sun and Michelle Lai have recently completed Graduate Diplomas in Tourism Management as part of Otago Polytechnic’s varied Business programmes.

They have learnt about tourism operations and enterprises, completed a practical research project in a tourism organisation, as well as forged important relationships with potential employers.

Some of these connections have resulted in jobs – Yue is awaiting confirmation of a tourism-bureau role in Dunedin, Sylvia is about to start a full-time position at Kiwi Country in Te Anau, and Michelle has a part-time, fixed-term job at Larnach Castle.

All three took different paths to Otago Polytechnic.

Yue (26), who has a Bachelor of Film Studies (completed in China), arrived in Dunedin at the start of this year having travelled extensively throughout China, Asia and, since 2015, New Zealand.

“I like slow travel, to take my time and experience the local culture and people, strengthening my passion to showcase New Zealand and share my experiences with others.”

Sylvia (24) was a journalist in China before she decided to head to New Zealand late last year, studying English in Auckland for a month, then enrolling in Otago Polytechnic’s Graduate Diploma in Tourism Management.

“I want to thank everyone at Otago Polytechnic for helping me. The staff were very good. They were very patient and explained anything I needed to know.”

From Hong Kong, Michelle (25) spent a year at Dunstan High School, Alexandra, and completed a Bachelor of Commerce before she returned to Hong Kong, where she worked for a credit and finance company.

"However, that job had nothing to do with management, so I saved for two years then chose Otago Polytechnic.

“It was totally different from what I expected. The staff are friendly and approachable and class sizes are smaller than university so you are able to interact more with lecturers as well as students.”


Yue Gong, Sylvia (Yuhan) Sun and Michelle Lai