Touch Down & Take Off

Kia ora!  We have come to the end of our first partial week, but it has definitely felt full!

Students arrived to the Quaker Settlement in Whanganui on 4 January after their long journeys from Chicago, India, Switzerland, and Hawaii — just to name a few.  We were grateful that their trips had relatively few hiccups overall and that everyone arrived in high spirits.  Of course jet lag loomed, but rallying everyone to grocery shop, cook, move into their new digs, and stay up until at least 9 pm helped folks begin to reset their internal clocks.  Arden and Ellie (Jay and Marcie’s girls) were also instrumental in keeping students awake and active!

Despite a few still-droopy eyelids the next morning, we dove straight in and began orienting to our new home.  After a tour of the Quaker Settlement and adjoining grounds, students shared a morning tea with other residents of the Settlement.  Then, we ventured out into greater Whanganui for an afternoon scavenger hunt in which students navigated the town by foot in order to find significant buildings, memorials, and even a good cup of coffee.  Later that evening, we rejoined the “Settlers” for a shared meal (potluck) and enjoyed a presentation they gave to help us learn more about the Quaker Settlement and its values.

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Students hiking through the “backyard” of the Quaker Settlement
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Few were deterred by the chilly waters of the south Pacific!

On Wednesday, everyone received course syllabi and an academic overview to help frame the semester more, but once we had our logistics worked out, we hit the beach in our “togs” and “jandals” for a little fun in the sun.  The black sands and satisfying waves of Kai Iwi beach invigorated us all and shook out any remaining tiredness and memories of winter.

We spent Thursday and Friday on Mount Taranaki just northwest of Whanganui.  We were treated with good weather on Thursday and were able to fit in a ~12 km “tramp” around the northern side of Taranaki, ending at the Taranaki Guesthouse for the evening.  Through the night, however, the weather picked up in a big way and on Friday we were met with gale force winds and pounding sheets of rain!  Luckily, we filled the morning with the first class of Jay’s “Where the Wild Things Are” seminar and the evening with a delicious meal and group building/bonding activities like our full value contract and 3 minute autobiographies.  After departing north Taranaki Saturday morning, the group explored the Tawhiti Museum in Hawera, which depicts major events of New Zealand history through mini and life sized figures.  The cafe there also provided a great space to have lunch and celebrate Brianna’s birthday with cakes and muffins!

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Gabe and Glynnis in the clouds of Taranaki on our hike
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Blue bird skies gave us a perfect view of Mount Taranaki Saturday morning after a stormy Friday

Now back at the Settlement, students are gearing up for a week full of introductions to Maori culture and New Zealand flora and fauna.  Stay tuned for more updates on our adventure!

Until then,
Zoe (program assistant)

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