Christchurch Goes Tropical

Kayla Petersen
September 3, 2015

Ever since our first meeting, the IES abroad students have become closer and closer throughout our stay. This past week our group went on our weeklong field trip to Rarotonga on the Cook Islands. There is nothing that could have prepared me for the kind of cultural immersion I was about to partake in, but man was it fun! We began our journey walking into the airport being greeted by friendly faces and melodies from ukuleles. After quickly making our way through security it was into a squished van and off to our own little resort. The beach was a bright blue hue, matching the sunny sky, with little broken seashells lining the shoreline. In the distance lay a large reef where huge waves were crashing and where whales were playing about. It was nice to travel out of the chilling winter Christchurch was in and into the warm sunny beaches of Rarotonga.

Our program director Eunice had packed our trip with many opportunities to talk with locals and really understand the traditional way of living on the island. Our mornings had the common tune of roosters’ cocka-doodle-doos to wake us up, and a delicious hearty breakfast to start our day out.

Our first big trip was an island hike where we climbed an almost vertical mountain to Needle Point rock, which was the center of our little island. We could look out and see the entire island from this spot and all the vegetation that inhabited it. Our guide made us laugh the entire way through by telling us jokes and keeping the mood light as we all huffed and puffed and could barely keep up with him.

The next day we went on a beautiful bike through the back roads where we heard stories about plants and animals on the island. We landed upon an old abandoned hotel where people have transformed into a paintballing area.

My favorite activity definitely had to be our snorkeling adventure through the lagoon. As I swam little fish would come close and play around underneath me accompanied by spotted eels and large coral.

Even though our days were filled with amazing activities and experiences, I will never forget the people that I met throughout my stay. We visited an elementary school where children laughed and sang to us. During recess I met a little girl named Tiana that told me all about her family. She opened up to me about travels she’s gone on and what her hopes and dreams were. Her laughs and smiles warmed my heart, and it was difficult saying goodbye. I went to Rarotonga and had a blast snorkeling, hiking, and playing on the beach, but what made it all worth while was the little girl who opened my eyes to how thankful I am to be a student with such amazing opportunities. 

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Kayla Petersen

<p>I&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">am a sophomore at Miami University in Ohio. I major in nutrition and have a concentration in Dietetics. &quot;Home&quot; is&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">wherever I feel happy, and for that I find my home in many places. After undergrad I plan on taking part in a Dietetic&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">Intership that will last about a year and then take the RD exam to become a Registered Dietitian. I am apart of the&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">Miami tribe, and hope to give back and work with the tribe after I become a Registered Dietitian. I am hoping that my&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">experience in New Zealand will help lead me to better understand how culture plays a role in people&#39;s health and diet.</span><span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">The Maori tribe plays a crucial role in being able to research and compare the different revitalization efforts from the&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">Miami tribe.</span></p>

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