South Pacific (not the musical)Christchurch, Fall 2009
A few days ago when I got back from my travels in Rarotonga, I opened my laptop eager to record and share my experiences before they began to fade. The problem was I had no idea where to begin and what exactly to include (there was nothing I wanted to leave out). So I decided to wait a few days before posting a blog.
In that time it became obvious to me what the most notable part of my experience was: the education I received about the Rarotonga, the Cook Islands, and the Pacific Islands. This is section of the world we only hear about in the news after a tsunami engulfed half of an island—and that is after we hear about Paris Hilton’s latest exploits. As far as I can remember, at no point during my education did I study the Pacific Islands. And it’s understandable; the Pacific region is 99.5% water. But the Pacific Ocean amounts for about a third of the Earth’s surface and scattered throughout this vast region lay more than 20,000 islands.
Before this trip, I knew little about this area of the world and I had no plans of, or interest in, getting to know it. Now, however, I have a solid, if modest, understanding of the history and origins of Pacific Islanders. More importantly, with this foundation, an interest has developed within me to continue learning about this part of the world.
Now, of course I have many specific experiences in Rarotonga that were incredible, such as deep sea fishing, meeting Nan Hauser (one of the world’s leading whale researchers), seeing humpback whales and learning local farming techniques. There is no shortage of unique experiences to which I will devote the next few posts. But having a few days to reflect on my time in Rarotonga, I realize that my memories of these specific events will eventually fade (many already have), and what will stay with me is this foundation of information I learned about the Pacific Islands.
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