This time around Stephen Fleming doesn’t field questions about cricket but about studying in New Zealand for he is the official brand ambassador of Education New Zealand. Excerpts from an interview:
We hear that you briefly worked as a teacher too. How did that stint help you later in life?
I was one of the youngest captains to have led the Black Caps having taken the captaincy mantle from Lee Germon when I was just 23. I had humble beginnings in the form of a Physical Education teacher. I was balancing education and sports quite well. I had quick success with domestic tournaments which got translated into a call to play for the national team. I had to quit being a teacher but was playing the same role to my boys. My education helped me to communicate, formulate ideas better, maintain balance within the team like ensuring players got along well and such. I am grateful for the education I have had for even after 20-25 years, it has been helping me.
Tournaments like Indian Premier League give opportunities to young players like Sanju Samson to grab the limelight at as young as 17 or 18. Do you believe that once someone finds fame and fortune, they are going to show any interest in finishing their education?
Education is not just for getting a job. It makes you civilised. As a player, whatever heights you reach, you need to be modest, level-headed and know how to field questions from the media diplomatically. Education teaches you all that. As an individual, you have your dreams and aspirations. Education shows you how to strategise and get there. I would advise young players to stick to their education, no matter what.
According to you, why should students look at New Zealand as a prospective higher education destination?
New Zealand has an outstanding education system — a lot of our universities rank in the top three per cent of the world’s top universities. I especially take pride in the surroundings in which students get their quality education — NZ has been known for its picturesque locales and it is almost romantic to study at the backdrop of such natural beauty. It is good for students also to come out of their home country, explore new horizons, get a taste of a new culture and in short, I can vouch that this experience will up your courage quotient by several notches. I have been made to familiarise myself with some of the outstanding Engineering programmes we have here especially in the wake of the rebuilding of Christchurch, which was ravaged due to the earthquakes. I want students to grab this wonderful opportunity of rebuilding a major Kiwi city. Indian students are one of the brightest in the world and it would be our privilege to host them and make use of their knowledge and creativity. And I know this one would especially please the parents — New Zealand is one of the safest countries in the world and students would be secure when they are here. The community is great and goes out of its way to help foreigners and especially students.
Return on Investment is a very important factor that influences a student’s decision to go abroad. Would a student consider it worth it to study in NZ?
It is rather difficult for me to give numbers as things are done differently here — we help you with you careers but there’s no spoon feeding and such and students have a lot of work to be done by themselves when it comes to scouting for a job. But on a generic level, I can talk about employment prospects. Hospitality and tourism industry is booming. Innovative manufacturing is also giving rise to a number of job offers. In short, opportunities are great.
Tell us about the initiatives New Zealand is doing to engage with India.
There was recently a T-Shirt Design competition held in association with Bannari Amman Institute of Technology, Coimbatore. This shirt will capture nuances of both India and New Zealand on the design and I am just waiting to proudly wear it as my brand ambassador jersey. On the PhD front, almost most universities offer attractive scholarships. Students should get in touch with these institutes and make use of them. Details at www.enz.govt.nz.