C’était très bien voyager en France. La famille d’accueil était très gentille et accueillent.
I loved every bit of the trip from waiting at the airport to travelling around France and Belgium. My host family were very kind, they took me and Lilly far and wide to experience their culture. The most memorable part of the trip for me (well I got a few but to narrow down) was the bag pipes band at the ceremony in Belgium and the Longueval ceremony. To listen to music from New Zealand all the way in France was amazing. I love the full bang of the drums and the high continuous sound of the bag pipes that stirs everyone’s emotions. To even meet the band who played those instruments all the way from Liverpool, London, England. One could say that I jumped up and down inside during the ceremony.
The ceremony in Longueval was a moving ceremony that commemorated the first world war respectively and gracefully. I participated in the afternoon service, Lieutenant General Timothy Keating kindly let me take his place in the ceremony reading the ode in Te Reo Maori. After the ceremony L.G. Keating gave me a chief of defence force coin. Then moments later the young ambassadors and I met with Prince Charles.
The biggest challenge of the trip was trying to find time to sleep. Yes, I could have slept during the day but I didn’t want to miss anything. I didn’t want to miss the sights and sounds that France had to offer. So I did end up sleeping on the bus quite a lot but everything was worth it.
We attended 3 different schools. Since Lily and I didn’t have a host brother or sister that were our age we couldn’t make a connection between schools. But we did have a good time meeting new people and going to different class’.
I’d discovered walking around Paris how much people work to live and not live to work. Confusing as it is, it took me while to get it too. I saw people rushing with their lives, wondering, worrying and questioning. I didn’t see much smiles on the Parisians, just determination to get tasks done. The atmosphere felt different, it felt rushed and everyone worked. Coming from New Zealand where we have a relaxed atmosphere. Even so we do come from the other side of the world. In saying that, I found that I don’t want to live my life in that kind of atmosphere and environment. I loved France, the people, the food and culture but to me I’m used to living and then deciding to work my way through things not splashing out then finding time to live.
Another thing I found that there are many homeless people in the streets of Paris, sitting. No one that I saw looked at them or cared, they walked by like they were not even there. That’s the reality so many people have to face. One question that’s always in my mind and I seem to can’t let go of was when me and my friend went to go get a drink. It was hot outside and from all the shopping down the champs-elyees, I needed to cool down. On the way to a bar, I walked past a homeless man sitting on the edge of a building, staring at the world as it goes past. I felt pity because I couldn’t give him anything but like a sheep, I walked past and carried on with my task. I brought a coke-cola and walked back, I saw the man as I walked towards him then slowly walked past him I thought to myself, “if I’m hot, I wonder how he feels, obviously in this weather he would be too.” So I turned around and gave him my drink, he hesitated to take it, but I sort of forced the drink to him politely. The friend I was with asked why I did that and I said what I thought as I walked towards him then past him. Later as we continued I thought about her question. Instead of her saying “that was kind of you” she said “why’d you do that?”. I thought to myself, why wouldn’t I do that, if I’m boiling hot I wonder how he feels. If I was in his position and I was hot, I would wish for someone to come past and give me a cold refreshing drink in the hot sun.
It’s the small things in life that makes life worth living.
In saying that I would like to thank the Christchurch RSA and Christchurch Sea Cadets for funding my trip and making me experience new cultures and get a better understanding of the world that we live in. I would also like to thank Ngai Tahu for gifting precious Toanga’s for the young ambassadors. Also I would like to thank my family who also gifted Toanga’s for the Young Ambassadors.