UC doctoral student recognised as champion of others
27 March 2023
Student, lecturer and international student supporter, Mengping Cheng graduates with a Doctor of Education from the University of Canterbury (UC) in April.
Originally from Xiangyang, Hubei province in China, Dr Cheng came to the University as a Mandarin Language Assistant at the Confucius Institute in July 2016. The year-long experience at UC solidified her decision to return to work on her PhD in March 2018.
“I really enjoyed the UC campus and being a student here. Christchurch is very easy to get around with a possibility to have a work-life balance, and in a great location to visit other parts of the South Island,” she says of her decision.
Mengping worked at a Chinese community school in Christchurch while studying towards her PhD, which focussed on teaching Chinese as a heritage language.
Her desire to support other international students led her to become President of the University of Canterbury Students’ Association (UCSA)’s Global Society in 2021, a club that produces an annual International Fashion Show championing diversity at UC. Mengping was also involved with the Tūhono peer mentorship programme under the University’s Business School, which saw her supporting a cohort of students based offshore, finding creative ways to engage them in campus life while they studied at distance.
“I know it can be difficult for first and second-year international students who have left all their family, friends, and networks in their home countries. I want to be a ‘lighthouse’ for international students through their journey,” she says.
More recently, Mengping lectured in Chinese language before taking up her current role as an International Student Experience Coordinator at UC. Reflecting on her four-year study, she says “I’m very grateful for having a chance to do research and contribute to my community.”
UC Associate Director International Monique van Veen says Mengping has been a true ambassador of manaakitanga, reflecting Ngā Uara | UC Values, during her time with the University.
“We talk a lot about manaakitanga at UC, and what it means to be generous in our hospitality to our new community members. During her study, Mengping never failed to champion events, causes and initiatives that engaged our international students with the wider UC community.
“International students make a big decision when choosing to come to UC, so having champions like Mengping, who are willing to so generously share their time and expertise, is absolutely vital. Mengping is a fantastic ambassador of and for UC.”
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