After being back in New Zealand for just over a week, I thought I’d share my final thoughts on my amazing month-and-a-half trip to Mexico. As my previous posts have been quite wordy, I am going to aspire to keep this one short!
People have been asking me all week about my time away, and honestly, I haven’t had the words. How do you explain something that was so multifaceted; an academic, social, and cultural… experience doesn’t even feel like the correct time for our time away. The most common question is, ‘do I feel like I have changed?’. The answer is yes, but I think more that I gained the confidence, knowledge and skills to become someone I have always been. We were fortunate to learn from some amazing people and have their guidance and support. I truly believe that the people made the trip.
The three main lessons I learnt from this trip were:
- Keep seeing the colour around you. This was shared by our coordinator Natalia. The idea is to keep seeing the hope and inspiration and keep taking joy from the everyday simplicities of life. This hope can be seen in the Mexican people. While they face unimaginable political, economic, and material hardships, they keep seeing the joy in life. Everyone we met was extremely hospitable and kind in a way that I think a lot of New Zealanders would struggle to be if living in the same situation. This message can also be applied to each of the topics we studied while we were there.
- Remember the humans behind the issues. This is an idea that I have mentioned before. Often in political debates, it is easy to forget the people affected by these problems. In everyday life, when watching the news, it is easy to ‘switch off’ your emotions when seeing the hardships faced by many around the world. We need to remember to ‘turn on’ these emotions when it comes to dealing with these issues because, in the end, we’re all human.
- Sustainability has to be just. It is impossible to create a sustainable solution if it replicates injustices because, in that way, it is socially unsustainable. As a society, we do not have the capabilities to respond to the global issue of climate change if we are also facing famine, lack of access to clean water, gender inequality, resilience issues, power inequality, poor healthcare, and social inequities. At the same time, when addressing these issues, we need to do it in a way that does not negatively impact our planet. Social and climate justice are strongly interconnected.
Lastly, I would like to thank everyone who made it possible for me to go on this trip. 360 International and Education NZ for choosing me for the scholarship, in particular Chandra and Sarah for the selection. Natalia at IBERO, who made our stay in Mexico so comfortable and was also just a great friend supporting us through everything. All of our teachers, especially Alejandra, our Spanish teacher and Majo, our workshop coordinator. And finally, my bus buddies, I loved having this experience with you guys. I learnt so much from you as well, you were an amazing support crew, and I’m looking forward to growing with you more back here in Auckland.
To anyone looking into this Prime Minister’s scholarship, I couldn’t recommend it more highly. It was an unforgettable experience.