Man, what an adventure! Having returned from our trip to France I feel accomplished, for having carried out my project; amazed, at all the things I’ve seen and the experiences we all shared together and lastly, proud to say I did my duty as a Young Ambassador.
Seeing the places I researched was unforgettable. The scale of The Great War was always visible, through the landscape and the ever-present cemeteries scattered around the countryside of North Eastern France. Each one commemorated men from many different countries, who all died to protect their values and the land of their brothers. The vast amount of headstones, monuments and the occasional existing scars on the earth, gave us all perspective on what was lost.
Learning of the contribution the Maori men of the Maori Pioneer Battalion made on the Western Front was very eye-opening. I knew many New Zealand men went and that many died, but I was unaware of how highly the contributions of the Pioneer Battalion were praised. Accounts told of eager and hardworking men with strong senses of acceptance and brother across the board. I felt proud not only as a New Zealander but as a young man learning about his cultural heritage in relation to Maori.
A way in which we discovered perspective was through going to all these cemeteries on the Western Front – French, Commonwealth and German – and imagining all the headstones as men, and then also going into the fields where many men were lost, never to be found or identified, and imagining them all standing in front of us. Such a humbling perspective it was.
Apart from our projects, it was definitely great to see all the other French Young Ambassadors again. I want to thank Eliott’s and Alan’s families for making me feel so welcome in their homes. I was fully immersed in the culture of not only France but that of the specific region which was amazing. I hope to see you all in the future (especially Eliott, because we’re doing business.)
Sharing the good, the bad and the ugly times with the Kiwi Young Ambassadors I believe is something that will connect us for years to come. We had so many laughs at our own personality traits, so many early mornings/late finishes and so many times spent in support of each other. In those times where each of us had to do our projects, we would do our best to support one another as we were all going through the same process. The amount I’ve learnt about you guys and myself is immense; I’ll never forget any of the times we shared together and I can’t wait to we can all see each other again.
Also, a huge thanks to Jennifer, Robin, Donny, Gerard, Cecile, Dauphine, Pascale Seignolles and Pascale Hyboud-Peron for making the trip possible and for teaching us all so much. I also appreciate so much, all the help from my family and school who pushed me to make the most of my experience, which I feel I did. An absolute once-in-a-lifetime experience I will never forget.
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Last modified on Monday, 06 August 2018 21:12