I actually cannot believe that it has been over a year since my Shared Histories journey began! 2014 was one of the busiest years I’ve had to date- with it being my last year at high school, being involved in running my own business as part of the Young Enterprise Scheme, and, of course, being a Young Ambassador for the Shared Histories project. This time last year I was completely oblivious to how being a Young Ambassador would affect my life, and I had only met two of the other YAs by April last year too (Emma and Harriet). There is really no way of putting into words everything that Shared Histories has meant to me, but simply put, the memories that I made during this experience will stay with me forever, and my time as a Young Ambassador will continue to help define who I grow into as a person.
Firstly I want to start with a massive thank you to everyone who helped out with making Shared Histories and the Young Ambassadors Tour a reality for myself and my fellow YAs. Specifically I’d like to thank Glenda and Ruth for being such wonderful chaperones to us in France and Belgium, you both were absolutely intrinsic in making our experience as amazing as it possibly could be! I would also like to acknowledge the absolutely fabulous Pascale! Pascale, you are such a character, and your energy and passion for Shared Histories really enhanced my experience as a Young Ambassador! I am also eternally grateful to Mrs Hill, my wonderful, wonderful French teacher, and to Mrs Riepl, my fantastic History teacher! Without you both I would never have been able to have this amazing experience, and I can never thank you enough for believing that I was good enough to put forward for this project! Finally I want to thank everyone who helped me fundraise for the trip last year, I certainly couldn’t have got there without you, and I cannot thank you enough.
Today, on the centenary of the Gallipoli landings, I feel that it is an appropriate time for me to “end” my Shared Histories journey with my final blog post. This morning I attended the Dawn Service at Pukeahu National War Memorial in Wellington, and I was blown away by the thousands of people who had flocked to the War Memorial in order to show their respects to those military personnel who have given their lives in service of their country. I think that the turnout is really reflective of the ways in which New Zealand and New Zealanders are waking up to the reality of the Great War, and to the impact that the War has had on shaping us as a nation.
Earlier this week I also attended the Victoria University of Wellington Italian Society’s ANZAC/Alpine Front centennial service, with fellow YA Josh Hansen. I found it an enlightening experience as I had never previously given much thought to the Alpine Front and the soldiers who fought there during the First World War, and yet here I was being exposed to yet another side of the War. For me this spoke to the increased recognition and education that is a by-product of the centennial commemorations, something that is also woven into the Shared Histories project. The aim of Shared Histories is to connect schools in New Zealand and France with the hopes of creating ties that are shared over an educational experience focused on the Great War, and as the remaining centennial years progress I can only see this project expanding in positive ways.
Finally, I must address my fellow Young Ambassadors. Who would have thought that 11 teenagers from across New Zealand could have come together for such an amazing experience, and have come away from it as such good friends? Certainly not me! I was incredibly anxious about spending time in France and Belgium with ten near on strangers this time last year, but I had absolutely no need to be worried. After our first official meeting in Wellington last June my doubts started to dissipate, and they were completely gone by the time we arrived in Paris the following month. I am so grateful that I got to share the experience with ten such talented, kind-hearted, and hilarious people, who I now consider extended family and some of my closest friends! Since we returned to New Zealand, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting up a couple of times with some of my fellow YAs, and I reckon a 2018 reunion with all of us would be great, huh?
In closing, I’ll let you know what I’m up to this year. I’ve made the move from Dunedin up to Wellington, and I’m currently studying History, Classical Studies, Italian, and Latin at Victoria University of Wellington (with hopes to continue with French next year!)
I will never forget the experiences that I’ve had because of Shared Histories and on the Young Ambassadors Tour, and I can’t wait to see how this project evolves!
Bonne chance pour tous l'étudiants s'impliquer dans Histoires Partagées, et au revoir tout le monde! Merci beaucoup pour suivant ma histoire!
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Last modified on Wednesday, 29 April 2015 17:33