I couldn’t have made a better choice than to come to New Zealand for the second semester of my latitudes year. The past seven weeks here in the Tasman Region on the South Island have exceeded expectations, and I’ve had a blast at my FVP.
Interning at Whenua Iti Outdoors, an experiential education organization that brings in school groups for multi-day expeditions and camp programs, I’ve been documenting activities and putting together short films on a weekly basis. In addition, I’ve been helping instructors with camp setup and helping out in the office when I can.
My time at Whenua Iti has been everything I could’ve hoped for. The team that I’m a part of is a motivated group that is constantly searching for more ways to benefit the locals kids here. The instructors have a real knack for connecting with the kids that come through our programs and consistently helping them to learn, work together, have fun, and grow as young adults. I’ve enjoyed watching this process go about week in and week out, and it’s awesome to see how much the kids change in terms of their confidence and leadership abilities from just a few days with Whenua Iti.
Although I’ve had very busy and active weeks during my internship, I don’t feel like I’ve had to really work at all with all the incredible activities I’ve been able to take part in. From sea kayaking to rock climbing, to paddling six-person canoes called Waka’s and holding 400 million year-old reptiles called Tuatara, to caving on Takaka Hill and learning the Maori martial art known as Mau Rakau, I have been able to take advantage of some once-in-a-lifetime experiences only possible through being with such a great organization. As a result, I consider myself really lucky to have wound up picking the perfect placement for me. To be spending my time with driven people making a huge difference in many people’s lives is in and of itself a fantastic experience, but doing it in the outdoors in a breathtaking environment like the one New Zealand has makes it truly special.
Looking ahead to the three weeks left at my placement, I’m excited by the prospect of working with new groups of kids and continuing my time with Whenua Iti but also shocked by how little time I have left here. Time has flown by and in a matter of weeks, I will be done with my placement and my gap year as a whole which is tough to wrap my head around. I’ve had the time of my life these past several months and am excited to see what the future holds!
Nāku noa, nā,