By Wes

In both sad and happy news, it’s Wes here to bring you the final blog of our Hongi Spring 2018 trip to the South Pacific. We have been traveling for three months, have endured ant armies in sleeping bags, multiple staph infections, people going into silence for two days, 10 billion flies on our mouths, ramen and hot dogs for 12 straight days, multiple unexpected hikes, ear infections, sunburns, and much much more. We have also done some outstanding things such as see Uluru during the sunrise, scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef, hike the Abel Tasman, spend 12 days with fabulous Fijian villagers, sleep under the stars in Alice Springs, play and cuddle with wallabies whose names might have been Peanut and Mimzy, spend a day with Maori men to learn dances and songs, etc etc. But after doing all this stuff it really has made us realize how time moves so fast when you are having fun and connecting with others… or eating your 10th kebab in the past 5 days (no judgment). As we finish up our yoga retreat here in the Daintree Rainforest, we have all taken time to reflect on this trip and allow ourselves to prepare for the transition back home.

In these past three months, our group has become a small family who have shared laughs and tears. But other than becoming a family together, individually we have realized that this trip has caused a lot of us to see the first steps of adulthood and becoming a successful traveler. Even though we are a family that does not mean we haven’t had conflict and consequences. But these are two things that we will always face in our upcoming adult lives. Losing four of our initial members wasn’t easy, either, and it played a big role in the roller coaster ride of this trip. But as a group, we overcame these challenges and moved on to make this trip something that we will never forget.

As we approach Tuesday and prepare for our flights home, we have taken time to reflect on why some of us decided to leave home and head out on this crazy adventure. Some wanted to just travel and get away from the crazy thing they call life at home. Some came for an answer to multiple questions they couldn’t find the answer to at home. Others came for school and credit opportunities. Whatever the reason may be, all that matters is we are all returning home with a new adventure in our pockets and an amazing memory that will never be forgotten.

To the families back at home who may be reading this blog, I know this has been difficult for you as well. Sending a child off for three months is not an easy task, especially when communication is limited and we are all the way across the globe. But just know with allowing us to go on this trip you have prepared us for future challenges, allowed us to visit some gorgeous places, and allowed us to develop ourselves in so many ways that we may not have been able to do while at home.

And lastly, I would like to give a giant shoutout to everyone in the spring 2018 Hongi group. Y’all we did it, we survived, we conquered, we may have cried and complained a little but it’s ok…that’s life, and we may have eaten way too many kebabs and meat pies but again that’s life. I wish all of you safe travels home and good luck with whatever life throws at you, I know you are all strong enough to face it. Always remember to go out of your comfort zone and be free with what you do. “A ship is safe in the harbor, but that is not where it belongs.”

Thank you, students, parents, and Carpe Diem for making this something I will never forget!