Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christina Liaskos


It's never a surprise that historical accounts of European exploration are filled
with bias and reflect the personal agendas of those telling the story. Looking
back, I am displeased by how I was taught to portray Columbus as an honest
and good person, who gave Christianity to the savage natives. How misinformed
we all were of the mass genocide that occurred upon Columbus' arrival. While
reading about Cook's journey around New Zealand, I anticipated learning of the
same harsh realities that are associated with European exploration of a new
land. However, I was surprised to find that the author talked about Cook as
being a decent man. I began to trust the author's words, that Cook did his best
to be good to the Maori people; however, as he started retelling the Maori
perspective of Cook's arrival, I began to question the author's perspective. After
hearing all sides of the story, I am certain that each one holds a bit of truth,
masked by a lot of biased opinion. Of course the Pakeha regard Cook as an
active contributor to the greatness that New Zealand is today. The Maori, on the
other hand only see that Cook took from them their land and their dignity.

The reading was interesting in that it gave a good, overall account of Cook's
exploration, including both modern and historical aspects of New Zealand's
cultural perspectives and personal opinions of Cook himself. The most amusing
thing I learned was the presence of the Crook Cook; it made me realize that
historical landmarks are insignificant if that true connection with your ancestry
does not exist.


My personal objective for this program is to be a traveler, not a tourist. I want to
learn about New Zealand through personal experiences with the culture and the
landscape. I don't want to look at New Zealand through the eyes of an
indifferent tourist, who sees no further than the superficial "sights" and
landmarks. I want to go deeper, to explore the sounds, the smells and the
overall "feel" of the environment around me. I want to explore New Zealand and
appreciate the beauty of its topography, shaped by environmental and cultural

Studying and learning about the geology and the biology of New Zealand's
landscape will help me achieve my objective for this program. It will force me to
think of this as more than just a vacation; it will enable me to truly understand
how invaluable this trip really is.

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