After a two day long flight, two
proposals of marriage by Arabs in Dubai airport and about a total of two hours sleep,
I finally landed in Auckland airport where I was met by my projects organiser Annette
on Thursday 9th October. And yes, she was actually holding a sign in her hands with
my name on it, I felt as though I was in a movie! After arriving I was briefly shown
around Auckland city centre and I finalised some paper work with Annette.
I was meant to be staying in a Hostel for the duration of my stay, but a lady from
the school I am working in had offered to take me in as a home stay. So after my
little guided tour, I was taken to her house, which was about a half hour drive
from the centre. A Little Bit about the Family ...
- They are from Delhi, India
- Manpreet is the name of the lady that works at the school
- She is 26
- She lives with her husband Sammy and his parents
- They have a pet dog called Sheba and is a German Shepherd
- Oh, and they are lovely!
My first weekend was fairly chilled. On Friday I got shown around the area I was
staying in and the family had some friends over in the evening, so this was my true
introduction into Indian culture. Saturday I spent mainly on my own. I went out
food shopping with Sammy's mum for things I wanted for the house and then I went
off to the city market. That evening I was taken out by Manpreet and Sammy for my
introduction into the Auckland night life. And because it's now late into spring
here, me and Manpreet took full advantage of the glorious 22 degree heat on Sunday
and had a girly day out on the beach.
Monday arrived and that meant an early rise because school registration starts at
8.30 and because of early morning traffic, which meant we had to leave at 7.30.
Monday however was a nice easy introduction day for me, simply two hours spent with
the deputy head getting told all of the expectations of me and a little tour. The
rest of the day was left for me to relax because the hard work would start the following
A Little Bit about the School:
The school is situated on the western side of Auckland and it has been here for
over 75 years and it has had a rich cultural background. Children from many ethnic
backgrounds attend the school, which makes Owairaka District School an exciting
and vibrant place to be. The school has a commitment to high academic standards
and an expectation that all children will succeed. Schooling is an open partnership
between parents, the child and the school.
I have a full timetable at the school which includes helping and teaching in all
of the senior school music classes, reading with some children that require an extra
bit of help, helping in some of the sports lessons, admin duties for staff and my
own personal Mori lessons. It's a very intense week and incredibly exhausting but
the children are such an inspiration to work with and each and every one of them
shows so much appreciation for your work that I find it hard not to go searching
for jobs to do when I get a spare five minutes in my day.
I have recently gone and got a henna design put on both of my hands. It's very pretty.
Mehndi is the traditional art of henna painting in India. In Indian mehndi, a person
applies designs traditionally to a woman's hands and feet. For particularly auspicious
occasions, men apply mehndi as well. The most auspicious occasion warranting mehndi
artwork is the Indian wedding, where both bride and bridegroom apply henna, as well
as several members of the bridal party. Henna on any occasion symbolizes fertility.
This weekend has been pretty busy. With such fantastic weather on Saturday I took
a trip up the Sky Tower. You can get an absolutely amazing view of the city and
land around. I decided not to be really crazy and jump off the tower however I did
take the opportunity to sit and have lunch at the top of the tower. After descending
back down to earth I went to Auckland Museum where I attended their Maori culture
show which was really interesting and is the main source for all the Maori information
I wrote earlier. That evening there was the annual Diwali Indian Festival at the
harbour. The day marks the homecoming of Lord Ram to his kingdom Ayodhya after the
fourteen days of exile. And because the family I'm with are from India they asked
me to join them for the celebration
Some Things That I've Already/Are Planning to Do Whilst I'm here:
I'm getting the chance to work with the school ukulele group and help them compose
a song to they can enter a competition. (I can now add ukulele onto my list of instruments
I can play.) I'm going to start teaching them a little bit about Scottish music
and the culture and traditions behind it.
Next weekend (Labour Weekend) I'm travelling to the Bay of Islands for three days.
This is the most northern part of New Zealand. At around about mid November I'm
going to go down to Rotorua which is famous for its hot springs and hot pools.
I haven't decided when yet but I will go down to South Island- apparently that's
where all of the Scots move to- and I will go and visit the main cities there; Christchurch,
Nelson, Queenstown and Dunedin. By the end of November I'm hoping to take about
a four day break to go and visit my step sister and her husband in Adelaide, Australia.
So that should be awesome. December is a very busy month at school with summer Santa
coming so lots of parties, concerts and organising to be done which is why I'm keeping
December fairly free.
I hope this has kept you happily informed about my progress and you have enjoyed
taking a little break to read this! Sending happiness from the land of the long
white cloud. Gillian Davidson
An email from Gillian to Rachel at Travellers HO coming to the end of her
Kia ora from down under! As expected
I haven't got the time to write another essay on what I've been up to but I thought
I'd let you know briefly what has been going on and what I'm still planning on doing.
The first big news is that the ukulele group was one of the three unranked winners
of the song writing competition and on the 2nd Dec we are going to a recording studio
with the other two schools to record our song! The kids were elated by the news.
The biggest change to me over the past few weeks is that I got dreadlocks. I know
it might seem quite drastic but I've actually been wanting them for about a year
now and couldn't resist! :) I started my recorder group which is going really well
and we are now preparing to play at one of the end of term concerts.
This weekend has been fairly hectic, I've been at the schools cultural festival
then the music teacher and I went to the ukulele festival where I got my souvenir
ukulele to take home and I met the Jimmy Hendricks of the ukulele.
And here's what I'm filling my last three weeks with:
On Thursday I'm going over to Australia for 6 days to visit my half sister in Adelaide
which I'm really looking forward to. Then on the Tuesday I get back I'll be going
to the recording studio with the uke group.
Manpreet is then having a party at the house that weekend so that will certainly
keep me busy. And then I'm already into my final week and so I will probably meet
up with Annette and reflect on the project. Then on the Saturday before I leave
there is a festival called 'Christmas in the Park' which I think we are all going
to go to ... and then I start my return journey the following afternoon.
I've truly enjoyed what I have experienced so far and I will make sure that in the
little time I have I will continue to fill it with even more exciting things. Hope
this keeps you informed. Thanks.