West Papuan student discovers new passion and career path in Manawatū

Papuan student Arnold Yoman at Awatapu College
Papuan student Arnold Yoman at Awatapu College ... spending hundreds of hours volunteering at Wholegrain Organics in Palmerston North. Image: David Unwin/Stuff


A West Papuan international student in Aotearoa New Zealand has devoted hundreds of hours to a non-profit organisation and opened a door to a new career.

Arnold Yoman, 19, came to New Zealand in 2019 from the Papuan provincial capital Jayapura on an Indonesian government scholarship and has been studying at Awatapu College in Palmerston North.

The school’s international department had a programme in Manawatū to get students involved in business during their first summer separated from overseas friends and family.

Yoman — a younger son of Reverend Socratez Yoman, president of the Fellowship of Baptist Churches in West Papua, who visited New Zealand in 2016 — started volunteering at Wholegrain Organics when he could not go home because of covid-19 border closures.

“I was welcomed to volunteer by the Wholegrain Organics farm and cafe and liked it so much that I asked to stay on after the holidays were over,” he said.

He volunteered at Wholegrain Organics’ farm during the school holidays and once it became obvious he had a passion and a knack for horticulture, the school started working with Wholegrain Organics so he could continue his work and get National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) credits.

Yoman’s work is through Wholegrain Organics’ hands-on food programme, where he plants, maintains and harvests organic produce for the community.

500 hours by the end
He will have completed more than 500 hours by the end of his voluntary work.

He is in his final year of school and wants to stay in New Zealand to study horticulture at Lincoln University in Canterbury next year.

Wholegrain Organics’ hands-on food programme has been running since 2015, a non-profit scheme working with young people in community programmes like a regenerative vegetable farm and a training kitchen and deli.

The programme’s food technology, nutrition and horticulture educator Gosia Wiatr said they loved having young people involved because it gave them access to quality and inclusive learning opportunities.

“Arnold’s work ethic has been an encouragement for other young people in the programme.

“International students have always been a great part of our programme, so we wanted to support the students who were separated from their families over the holidays.

“We’ve been happy about their success stories, with students finding new career paths, improving their English and enriching their time in New Zealand as a result.”

Republished with permission from Stuff.

Awatapu College student Arnold Yoman (left) and Wholegrain Organics’ Fred Kretschmer
Awatapu College student Arnold Yoman (left) and Wholegrain Organics’ Fred Kretschmer inspect a broccoli on one of the non-profit business farms. Image: David Unwin/Stuff
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