The bittersweet moment has come. Yesterday, I said “see you later” to 20 new members of my whanau (“family”) and goodbye to the place I’ve come to call home. We spent our final night at the Old Convent celebrating a season of life shared together. We had fish and chips on the beach and shared memories from the semester in a celebration event, giving each other community gifts. Each student was asked to prepare a community gift to share with the students and staff commemorating the semester together. I received notes of love and encouragement, music recordings, friendship bracelets, a cookbook of favorite meals, and a video of memories made during the semester. We ended the celebration sharing communion with one another. Many tears were shed. The fact that we would no longer be living as a community together at the Old Convent, was now a reality. In the last three and a half months, we have become whanau.
Yesterday I said goodbye to dance parties Monday llama walk day, late night talks in the lounge, contagious laugh circles, and hammock cities in the old walnut tree. On the other hand, I said hello to 20 beautiful new long-distance friendships that will only continue to flourish (hopefully through visits to Alabama and Iowa and North Carolina and Washington and California and Pennsylvania and New York and South Dakota and, of course, New Zealand). I have so much love for my new whanau and for New Zealand. Thank you for a beautifully life-changing semester full of laughter, warm fuzzies, and growth.
Saying farewell to New Zealand is hard; a piece of me will always remain in the Old Convent of the little town of Kaikoura. On the other hand, I am beyond excited to take the sustainable living and “doing life together” skills that my semester abroad has taught me, back to Hope. I am beyond excited to invest in my place and make a home once again.
My heart is so full. Thanks for sharing this journey with me!