At the invitation of the New Zealand China Friendship Association, I visited New Zealand as the second recipient of the Margot Cornwell Scholarship, and finished a three-month study at University of Waikato in Hamilton, from early February to late June in 2016.
I have been working in the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship Association (CPAFFC) for almost ten years. What we are doing everyday is carrying on all kinds of people-to-people exchanges with the aims of enhancing friendship and cooperation between China and all the other countries. My division takes care of friendly exchanges with 16 countries including New Zealand. New Zealand is no stranger to me. Although this is my eighth or ninth time visit to New Zealand, these three months are still very precious to me.
What did I do?
On my plane from Beijing to Auckland, I made up my mind to take my time and make good use of everyday in New Zealand. I decided to choose subjects I was really interested at school, as well as extend my understanding of New Zealand as much as I could through attending activities or visiting different places.
I attended two courses in Waikato University, including Pacific Development & Maori Culture, and Drawing. Both of them were very interesting, either very closely related to my job or the field I would like to explore myself.
From the Pacific Development, I learned about the major concerns of the Pacific countries and their people. I understood more about the status and concerns of the Maori people in New Zealand society. In the drawing classes, I chose my daughter to be my study subject. It helps me learning drawing skills as well as curing the yearning.
In May, I was invited to attend the 2016 NZCFS annual Conference and gave a speech represented both CPAFFC and youth. It was a good chance to meet with all the good friends again and be involved with discussions in how to mobilize the youth generation in friendly exchanges with China.
During Easter Holiday, I joined a hiking group and spent 4 days on the Waikaremoana Great Walk, one of the nine great walks in New Zealand. It was a life-time memory for me.
Apart from the great walk, I also completed the Ports of Round the Bays in Auckland and attended the 2016 Hamilton Chinese Sports Day. On the Sports Day in Hamilton, I was very happy to joined a group of girls who decided to bake cookies for fund raising for the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation.
During the two-week school break, I rent a car and spent two weeks traveling. There were many beautiful and interesting places worth to go back again. I still could clearly remember the friendly couple I stayed with in Picton, the beautiful scenery of the Wanaka Lake, the blue cups in the lovely cafe on the top of Mount John with the stunning view of Lake Tekapo, the huge hamburger in Queenstown and the “Everything will be alright signs in Christchurch city center.
What did I get?
“What did I get from this trip?”, I asked myself when it was approaching to the end of it. Friendship was my first answer.
Three months were long enough to visit my old friends as well as make new friends, especially in New Zealand, such a friendly country with many kind people here.
In Waikato University, although I was just a student, I was surprised to find I was the only Chinese student in my class.
I found kiwis were curious about my mother country which seems so far away from them. I kept answering questions related with China no matter on classes or on the Great walk around the Waikaremoana Lake, including Family Planning Policy (also known as the One Child Policy), economic development, Chinese Dream, environmental problems and solutions, Child care situation, judicial system, laws and so on. I was very happy to answer all these questions and helped more kiwis know something about China. By doing so, I made a lot of new friends too.
Three months in New Zealand also gave me a good length of time to stay alone and started to pursue the inner peace. I practiced Yoga every morning, read books, appreciate life in a slower pace and observe people around me. After doing so, I saw the scenery that I never noticed before. At the first time in my life, I got a chance to dissect myself thoroughly, and answered questions for myself.
Every experience changes you and your life in a way. I sincerely appreciate Margot Cornwell and her husband Peter, for donating money and setting up this scholarship, and the NZCFS for inviting me to be the recipient and have this life-time memorable experience in New Zealand.