Kristen Gouveia is a recent graduate of the Broadcasting Radio, Television and Film program at Niagara College. She participated in a Volunteer Abroad experience at The Edge in Auckland, New Zealand during a 2-month period. Read some of the excerpts from her reflection to see how she has become even more “World Ready” as a result of her time abroad.
It’s safe to say that before my trip abroad, I was a very different person. On the outside, I may still look the same, aside from the small tan that I was got from the New Zealand sun, but on the inside I’m a new person. Before I left to intern abroad, I was a very sheltered young adult. Now, that’s not to say that I never travelled anywhere, but my day to day life was very sheltered and protected. Like most North American kids, I was raised by “worried” parents. As I grew older, some of that worry started shedding on to me. I started to be afraid to do things alone and constantly wanted a friend or someone to come with me when I went shopping or had to visit the dentist – not always but most times.
When I got to Auckland, my life changed the day my dad left for the airport (he’s Portuguese, so he came with me for the first week). After he left, I sat in my room and cried for 10 minutes, thinking about how much I was going to miss him and my family. Moments later, I specifically remember hearing a knock on my door and realized that it was my landlord bringing me a banana smoothie. I love banana smoothies. That night, I decided that I would come out of my room and take the experience by the horns.
The people who I lived with are Indian, both in their early thirties, with a beautiful baby girl (who I had the pleasure of being named an honorary auntie to). Living at their house was something that will stick with me for the rest of my life. They are the most generous and kind people that I have had the pleasure of meeting and I now consider them to be family. Since their house was a bed and breakfast, I had the chance to meet wonderful people from all over the world. I can’t even express to you how eye opening it was for me to learn about so many cultures: Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, French, Austrian… and the list continues. I can now cook some Indian dishes, I know how to tie a sari, and I can proudly list a few swear words. It is safe to say my life at “home” was incredible.
Working with The Edge was also an amazing experience. I had unforgettable co-workers, who turned into friends for life. I learned so much about television broadcasting, not to mention got some amazing perks (meeting celebrities and going to festivals). Sam, one of my close friends from work, is actually of Maori decent, so I was able to learn about Maori traditions and religion through him.
This trip was so much more than beautiful pictures posted on Facebook. I am no longer afraid to do things alone because I was alone… half way around the world, and I was successful! It has given me confidence in my life that I couldn’t have gotten any other way. My experience aboad has made me understand so much about different people and cultures. We are all SO different, yet we are all the same. I believe this trip will help me with my endeavors in the future because the trip helped me grow into the kind of person a broadcasting company looks for…educated, worldly, compassionate, daring, and adventurous.
Thank-you to my INCREDIBLE parents for always supporting me; for knowing when to hold on, and when to let go, and for making my dreams your own. I love you so much. Also a big thank-you to all the friends I made over in New Zealand (at home and at work)…you have all made my trip what it was, and I can’t thank-you enough for welcoming me into your lives.
This essay has been slightly edited for flow, clarity, and grammar.