Today is the long whispered about December 6th, 2018. A few hours ago we all sat together in the sunny Christchurch Botanical Gardens, making jokes about all the unique people and places we encountered these past few months and shouting out all that we are grateful for one final time. Then we asked a stranger to take a sweet photo of us together in a giant tree, headed to the airport, and shared some tearful goodbyes. The writer George Saunders once pondered if the way you feel when saying goodbye to someone you truly care about at the airport— those lovey-dovey warm sweet feelings—if maybe that’s the way we are all supposed to feel on a daily basis. That might be a stretch, but it does feel nice to have a community so strong that saying goodbye is so bittersweet. The reality of our journey (as always seems to be the case) was full of ups and downs, joys and frustrations, great days and tough days. Breathtaking mountaintop days and 12 hour taxi-to-smelly ferry-to-bus-to-taxi days. It’s been a jam-packed three months— you should all feel incredibly proud of accomplishing such a demanding experience!
From orientation in Katoomba to volunteering at the Dingo Den, a road-trip in the Australian Outback with an endearing guide named Guy, a yoga and meditation retreat at Prema Shanti, a week full of wallabies with Claire and Marcus at Sheoak, beautiful homestays in Nakuku, Fiji, scuba diving in the beautiful Fijian waters, learning about Maori culture in Raglan, New Zealand with an incredible teacher in Tiaki, staying on the peaceful organic Hart Family Farm, exploring the South Island on Student Directed Travel, and an epic final week exploring the outdoors with Joni, Johnny, and Gilby at Whenua Iti— we’ve been through a lot together. We’ve finished as a more caring, thoughtful, and responsible bunch of humans than when we began. It’s been incredibly rewarding sharing our stories and getting to hear yours. You are a truly insightful and inspiring group who will no doubt continue to shine as positive leaders in your communities.
We would like to share our endless appreciation for all those who made this trip possible, including: wonderful parents, family, and friends who supported us all on our journeys, the dedicated and talented staff who planned the trip in the Carpe Diem office, and all the wonderful gracious hosts and intrepid travelers we met along the way. Thank you all for making it possible for us to have such a rich and transformational learning experience.
Our hope is that over the course of these past few months, each of you has come a little closer to finding what makes you feel most happy and alive. We’ve reflected a lot on the people and qualities we admire— those who embody compassion, global-citizenship, and selflessness on a daily basis, in big ways and small. We hope your coming days and years are full of more incredible adventures that continue to push you outside your comfort zones, where the most growth and learning happens. For now though, enjoy the warm comforts of home and reunions with family and friends (or your exciting new independent post-semester travels), and continue to take time to remember your blessings and all we have to be grateful for. We are certainly grateful for each and all of you!
With love and gratitude,
Peter and Anya