As Covid-19 restrictions roll back, South Otago High School is welcoming the return of international students.

Twenty-nine students from Thailand were being orientated at the school last week along with accompanying staff.

‘‘Our students love to come to New Zealand,’’ the Thai students’ spiritual director Father Augustine from St Dominic’s Catholic School in Bangkok said.

‘‘They feel very respected and are very well treated here [as they] improve their English and learn how to grow relationships with other young people from quite different backgrounds.’’

Jan Stephen of NZ Study Co Ltd in Thailand has been to New Zealand ‘‘about 20 times’’ and works to facilitate mainly year 10-11 Thai students who stay for three weeks up to a full year and sometimes remain for tertiary study.

‘‘I’ve been to New Zealand’s big cities [but] like the nice Kiwi kids’ culture of small towns for our students.’’

Pobye Yanin Yanubo (18), from St Dominic’s, is in Balclutha for a short stay with Judy and David Ward.

He had already toured Queenstown and Central Otago, and said he most enjoyed chemistry and basketball, and made an impression by addressing an assembly in te reo Maori.

‘‘In Thailand students work much harder and longer than in New Zealand,’’ he said.

‘‘People here are very welcoming and open and the culture is very interesting.’’

Natalie Sindhubodee (10) was staying in the district for two months and said she liked sharing her language with her classmates.

‘‘We study very hard in Thailand and staying here is very good for learning English,’’ she said.

Principal Mike Wright was very pleased to have the international students back in town.

‘‘The Thai students are delightful to have,’’ he said.

‘‘We have programs to work with student and teacher buddies, and it’s an excellent opportunity for our local students to appreciate the differences and similarities in our cultures.’’