Friday, January 1, 2010

Pre-Departure Blog Post


Pre-Departure Blog Post

Jessi Wenke

While reading "Blue Latitudes" it came as little surprise that there was such conflict between the different cultures upon James Cook's arrival. Sadly, it is a story that replays itself the world over when a native population is "discovered" by another. Understandably there is a quite a cultural gap, even to this day, between the Maori and the Pakeha, yet is seems to be a divide they many are trying to reconcile.

What I personally found most interesting were the stories of the natives told of the first arrival of the Endeavor. They did not see a sailing ship, rather they thought they saw an immense bird, or supposed the masts of the ship were giant trees. The lack of women and children among the crew also brought them to suppose that the ship's crew did not prefer the company of women. They viewed the crew as goblins from the spirit world and were amazed by the guns they carried; thunder from the heavens that could strike a man down.  

There is so much I hope to take home from this trip I hardly know where to start. As a student, I look forward to studying in the great outdoor classroom that is New Zealand. I hope to be able to come home with a deeper understanding of the geological forces that have shaped our Earth; something I have longed to observe first hand, not simply learn from a text book.

As a wife and mother of two, I have expectations of this trip that I suspect most of the other students do not. It has been a long, and oftentimes trying adventure in academics since I first returned to school. It has been difficult most times to juggle family and school responsibilities and I hope this reprieve from my loving family will enable me to, for once, focus completely on my studies and give me time and space  to attempt to clearly define where I hope to see my career go upon graduation.

I love to travel and have traveled the length and breadth of the US. One of my favorite pastimes while traveling is to get to know the locals; the old man on the country store porch, the diner waitress or the poor unsuspecting person who happens to be behind me in the checkout line. A trip across our country is an eye opening experience as you see firsthand just how different people are and how different their values can be. I look forward with all of my heart to meeting and talking with everyone who will give me an ear in New Zealand. I want to learn what makes their culture unique, what they hold near and dear and how their history has shaped them.

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