By PHILIP CHANDLER
Despite all of Covid’s downsides, it’s prolonged an Argentinian teenager’s studies at Wakatipu High — and, in the process, he’s thrived both academically and socially.
Juan Jose, 17, attended Year 11 at the school, then returned home at the end of 2019.
He came back early last year, initially just to retrieve some luggage, ‘‘but then Covid started and I sort of got stuck’’.
And, in view of how Covid was ravaging his home country, happily so.
Now in Year 13, he reflects on how his Queenstown school experience has unleashed his flair for photography and the creative arts and, rather than follow his doctor parents and study medicine, he now intends studying architecture at Wellington’s Victoria University.
‘‘Classes are more interactive, more enjoyable, and I have more opportunity to follow my interests,’’ he says.
Assistant principal Lee Hiestand says Juan’s ‘‘such a great kid, and he just fits right in’’.
‘‘He’s one of the lads, he’s well liked, and very, very personable.’’
Having international students like Juan’s also a good eye-opener for Kiwi students, she notes.
For the past year, he’s also become a valued member of his host family.
‘‘We enjoy getting to know more about ‘JJ’ and how he grew up in Argentina,’’ his homestay dad Bert Haines says.
He’s also become a ‘big brother’ for the family’s three-year-old, Hudson.
‘‘JJ’s the cool big brother that can juggle and skateboard and do the fun things like that, and JJ’s helped him learn to ride a bike, Hudson’s really, really enjoyed it.’’