Friday, January 1, 2010

Pre-Departure Blog

Laura Treible

Chapter 4 of Blue Latitudes tells the history of Captain James Cook's journey and
arrival in New Zealand. The author Tony Horowitz tells his own story of
exploring New Zealand by comparing it to Cook's explorations of the same
locations. Cook's discovery of New Zealand was significantly affected by the
relationships with the Maori, the native people living there. The Europeans,
called Pakeha, did not understand the Maori culture and customs. Likewise, the Maori did not understand these new people coming to their land.

The most interesting thing to read was the differences in how the interactions of
the two groups were portrayed. The differences in how the history of New
Zealand is told is similar to how we as Americans learn about the Revolutionary
War. We have always been taught to see the English soldiers as the enemy, but
in England, their history books regard us as doing wrong. A woman from a tour
commented, "In school, the Maori were presented as warriors and savages. No
one told us Cook killed people when he landed." It was surprising to see how
the same history is still seen in two different lights depending on which group of
people you talk to. Cook is generally portrayed as a hero, but the Maori people
see him more as taking away from their culture and traditions.

I have many different objectives for this program and this trip. Personally, I
really wan to explore as many new places as possible. So far I have only been
outside of the US once, and I am really excited for the opportunity to travel
again. It is so fascinating to see how people in different countries live, especially
in places with such a rich history like New Zealand. Learning more about the
Maori culture is definitely something I want to do. I really want to try to learn as
many Maori words and as much Kiwi slang as possible to really experience New
Zealand culturally.

From an environmental standpoint, I really want to take in all that the unique
New Zealand environment has to offer. I cannot wait to experience the southern
hemisphere climate and immense biological diversity. In the future I want to
pursue a career in marine science, so I am very excited to learn about the
biology and geology of the coastal environment. This trip will most definitely be
an amazing experience and I look forward to taking in all that this trip has to

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