Ahakoa he iti, he pounamu

toki“Although it is small, it is greenstone.”

This is one of the first whakataukīs (proverbs) I learned in my Māori course this year, and the only one I memorised, because it’s so simple yet perfect and profound.

We applied it to teaching – perhaps a student made a few edits to a paper that caused significant improvements. Or for ourselves, we took small steps to get to know individual characteristics about each student or learn bits of Māori. They are small efforts that are valued and can end up making a big difference.

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…And So It Ends

A week before I boarded a trans-Pacific plane eleven months ago, I wrote about the anticipation of beginning my New Zealand journey. A couple months ago, I entered the bittersweet limbo season and began to detect the light barely glimmering at the end of the tunnel. Welp, two months came and went (flash!). Today, the impending assignments are all done and dusted. I’ve completed a Master’s degree, slotted in and smashed out about as many adventures as I could manage, and in one short week, the #JCompinNZ journey will come to a close. What a significant, memorable year it has been.

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The Bittersweet Season

My last big trip through New Zealand over spring break ended two weeks ago (I neglected to write about any of it…)

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Cathedral Cove, Coromandel
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Paihia Dolphin Cruise – I still can’t believe I caught this shot
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Queen Charlotte Track, Marlborough Sounds

Yesterday I had my final three-way meeting for student teaching and finished my last day of placement at Hornby High. Tonight is my last night as a Waimairi Woman. We have trimmed hedges and mowed the lawn, deep cleaned and packed up, and now I’m sitting at the dinner table in an eerily calm, empty house. Rachel and Jovita are already back home, and after a tramp with some friends this weekend, I’ll be joining Jovita and her family, who have graciously invited me to live with them for my last two months in New Zealand.

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Celebrating Jovita’s 20th Birthday

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Biculturalism in Aotearoa

“We got lots of internationals here, eh?”

We, over 100 college students devoting the weekend to volunteering in the Akaroa community, stood at the gate of the Ōnuku Marae – women in the front, men behind, awaiting the Pōwhiri welcoming ceremony.

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“Hehe, you’s is in fer a real suhprise,” he cackled. The Kaiāwhina leaned slightly forward on his intricately carved staff. He seemed to emanate old wisdom in a modern generation.

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Waimairi Women

Genesis had it right from the beginning – “It is not good for man to be alone.”

And though it’s not exactly the same context, I don’t ever intend on living without other people again.

Last term I lived in Ilam Apartments, a centrally located, convenient student block that houses a lot of study abroad students. It was definitely not the cheapest, but, going through the university, it was the easiest for me to arrange when I was still back in America. Plus, I hoped it would facilitate my scheming to live with Georgia while she was here. Not only did I get to live with my sister, but I also befriended an eclectic group of flatmates: a tough-skin, soft-heart Bostonian; a smart, procrastinating original from Ireland; and a gentle, cheerful spirit from Manchester. Ilam hosted fun events during study weeks for residents, and my room had a personal heater – a perk I would later covet. Anticipating all of my flatmates abandoning me though, I started toying with the idea of other (cheaper) accommodation possibilities.

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Mihi Mihi

Two weeks ago I returned to New Zealand and hit the ground running. I landed about midnight on Sunday and got bombarded with new assignments in class the very next morning. I’ve moved flats and am now house sitting in a real house with two fantastic flatmates from Christian Union, the campus ministry we’re all a part of (more on that awesome situation and the lack of NZ housing insulation in a future blog post). I’ve hosted an amazing couchsurfer (also deserving of its own post), gone tramping, and returned to UCanDance.

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Placement 1

For most of my life, I have wanted to be a teacher. Two years ago when I made the official adult decision to pursue education as a career, I came across this picture from Humans of New York.

At the time, it epitomized one of the main reasons I was committing to teaching. Why would someone who had the brains and opportunities to go into many other worthy professions willingly choose a job with pubescent teenagers? A job that follows you home, that grossly underpays and is so exhaustingly demanding? And in English, one that requires you to mark paper after endless paper??

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