It is only now that I realise how quickly this year has unravelled before me, as I approach spring and exams and the end of high school. The trip has been the pinnacle point of my year, no doubt,and now I understand why the months preludingthis trip passed me by with such uneasy rapidity; the impending trip lingering in the not-so-distant future. While I was in France, time stood still for a few technicolour moments, and I froze in awe of my fortune of being part of something important, in a beautiful country with beautiful people. The days were long, adventurous and fulfilling. I woke up not knowing where the day would take me, what images would be imprinted on my mind and what knowledge I would acquire. Time slowed down for those two short weeks, and all my anxieties at participating in this project eluded me. I am immensely glad that I decided to come out of my comfort zone to apply to be a Young Ambassador, as what I have gained from this experience has been invaluable. It has broadened my understanding and perspective in many areas, most obviously the war and its impact, but also many other pieces of history and culture, not to mention more confidence in my spoken French. I have returned to New Zealand with an enlivening compulsion to explore the world and meet different people, which I hope to carry with me in the years to come.
Our wonderful hostel in Paris, where I got to know my roommates very well (see below)
Lucy, Caitlin, Harriet and me outside the Louvre
The eternal flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Bastille Day fireworks display - definitely one of the highlights of the trip
The dizzying scale of such cemeteries rendered me numb and senseless; the tidy rows of sometimes-nameless white graves a haunting reminder of the mass destruction – both physical and emotional.
Lucy made a friend at Le Quesnoy. The people there were extremely welcoming and it was very interesting to all the connections to NZ.
Lucy and I stayed with a lovely host family during our time in Arras - was a wonderful opportunity to speak French and to meet French teenagers.
On the last day I was lucky enough to meet my penpal Lauryn in Paris!
Merci à tous qui a fait possible cet expérience, et particulièrement Glenda et Ruth. La France me manque ! J’ai hâte de voir tout le monde ce week-end !