That being said, it was truly an awesome experience having friends from home here to travel with. Our big adventure was to Rotorua where we found 'hidden' (they were mention on Google, so they weren't really hidden), free hotsprings and mudpots, we watched twilight settle over Lake Rotomo from the yard of our cute little rental house, and we enjoyed a lovely afternoon frolicking and picnicking at Ohope Beach. One the way back we passed through Napier. It was rebuilt after an earthquake in 1931, so the architecture in the whole town is very Art Deco. More pictures of all the fun are on the Photos and Videos page.
After a short stall in my project, my ethics application finally received approval! Also, this week has brought me several new connections as well as a distribution list for getting my survey out. I am very grateful for that!
Tomorrow we leave for Tongariro National Park. We will just be spending two days exploring two of the volcanoes. This should be fun. We are going with most of the Fulbrighters plus a couple of instructors from the Victoria University.
The past two weekends have been very busy, and they will just be busier from now until mid-April. Last weekend started with a visit to Fiona's house. Fiona is a Fulbrighter from here that spent the fall in Indiana. We got to know her at the orientation last August in DC. We had a delightful time catching up and she made a delicious dinner with pavlova, and two tarts for dessert.
Last Sunday was a gorgeous day and we finally had the opportunity to enjoy the Sunday market at the waterfront in downtown Wellington. Zelda got her picture painted by a marionette puppeteer.
All of my school visits last week were repeat schools, but I am really enjoying starting to get to know people in the community and learning more about the programs in the schools. Last Friday I enjoyed a very interesting cultural experience with Island Bay school. Zelda's class went to the local Marae to prepare a hangi, which is a traditional Maori way of cooking. Unfortunately, little Z had the croup and couldn't attend, but I still volunteered. I was super sad to leave her in the morning, but I am glad I got to be part of the experience and see the Tapu Te Ranga Marae. To learn more about this experience, visit the Programs and Projects page, and scroll down a bit.
I'd like to give a shout out to Dr. Craig Rofe here. He has been kind enough to invite me to sit in on Te Ao Maori class he runs at Victoria University. The class is taught to teachers in training and focuses on Maori pedagogy. They are learning how to build their cultural competence and finding resources that they can use to integrate Maori cultural elements into their class culture. I am learning a lot, and he makes the class very interactive and a lot of fun!
I can't believe I have been here over a month already. Between, my school visits, my class at the university, a research project I'm assisting with, and the family, there is never a dull moment.
This past week I met with the stream maintenance team at Owhiro Bay School. They have a beautiful and unique outdoor area for learning at the stream behind their school, but it is difficult to maintain. More details on the Projects and Programs page of this site. I sat in on a planning meeting and will be volunteer there next Wednesday to do some maintenance work.
I had another visit at Te Aro School to learn from the bee keeping class. This visit was very short, but I still learned something new and will be going back for more next week.
Weekend fun! Last weekend one of the other Fulbrighters invited us to join her and her son on an overnight trek to stay at a lodge in the Rimutaka Forest Park along the Orongorongo River Valley. This area is just 45 minutes outside of Wellington and the scenery is absolutely gorgeous. My pictures (on the Photos and Videos page) do not do it justice. The colors were extremely verdant and we were graced with the most amazing weather. Aside from an unfortunate run in with a rowdy guy after dark, we had a fabulous adventure. We even got to see glowworms while we were out looking for kiwi (which we did not see)!
Here hiking is called tramping, which, depending on the context, sometimes makes me giggles. That being said, we certainly are looking forward to more tramping around soon!
I can't believe how fast the time is flying here. The days have an easy breezy pace to them. My project allows me to make my own schedule, so there is time for a hike over the hills or a long the bay each morning before I get going. This seems to be helping my brain get the oxygen it needs to be awake and able to soak in all the new things I'm learning.
Each school here is in charge of deciding what curriculum they use to meet the national standards. This gives them them a lot of flexibility, so the schools I am visiting all look very different. Last week I had two great adventures with schools.
The first one was honey extraction with the Te Aro school. I spent the whole day with Claire's class (they use first names for their teachers) learning about how to get the honey out of the hive. Martin, the beekeeper, works with Claire's on a regular basis and the students study the bees in a cross-curricular context throughout the year. (More about the bees on the Idea Toolkit page of this site.)
The second adventure was going to camp with South Wellington Intermediate School (SWIS). This is the school that Felix and Carlo are attending.
Intermediate school is the equivalent of middle school. At the beginning of Term 1 each year SWIS takes it's students to camp. One of the organizing teachers said it is really a great way for the kids to bond, and as a parent I have to agree. Last week before camp, Carlo said he didn't know how to make friends at his new school. Yesterday, he came home from school talking about his friends and saying that one of them helped him in German class, and that made it really fun for him. I was very impressed by how well organized the camp was but, also, how much freedom the students were given. (More about camp on the Idea Toolkit page of this site.)
Family and Friends
Last Friday we met up with some of the other Fulbrighters with their families and friends at the Night Market on Cuba Street. Afterward we strolled around and eventually found some music and dancing in the street, which, of course, we had to participate in.
On Saturday we hosted a hike leaving from our apartment to the Devil's Gate Seal Haulout followed by a potluck. The walk was 10 miles roundtrip, so we were all good and hungry when we got back to the apartment. It was a lot of fun having people over, since we had not hosted any get-togethers since before we moved out of the house in ATX.
Sunday day was time for catching up on some rest. In the evening we went to another potluck and New Zealand trivia night hosted by another Fulbrighter and her family. Our team did pretty well, but learned we aren't looking very closely at our money, as we knew neither the birds that are on the back nor the people who are on the fronts.
It was a truly lovely weekend filled with good food, great exercise, and wonderful companions!
THE VIEWS AND INFORMATION PRESENTED ON THIS SITE ARE MY OWN AND DO NOT REPRESENT THE FULBRIGHT PROGRAM OR THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE.
This blog is dedicated to all of my friends, family, and community members who helped support us both financially and emotionally on this trip. We are extremely grateful for you all.