You provided eating establishments that represent most countries of the world, and weekly international food truck experiences at the night market. I have too many sensitivities to actually eat most of the offerings but just watching the food preparation has been fun!
You have the best hot chocolate at the Amsterdam Cafe, a little coffee stand outpost adjacent to a paraphernalia store of some kind--interesting location! I cannot consume too much milk or sugar but today you recommended a mint hot chocolate and it was very nice. You remembered me from last night when I brought my anonymous friend along to try the famous chocolate sauce. It kept us warm as we went on a very long walk to Mount Cook on cold windy night--thank you.
You have provided me with entertainment such as the “statue man’ in a white outfit who alternates his location from Cuba to Lambton Quay.I have never had any gold coins or cash to give when you when I passed you by. All I had to give you was a smile. However, I have all of my gold coins organized in a plastic bag and in the next couple of days I will come looking for you and give you all that I have in that coveted bag of $1.00 and $2.00 coins as I have been pondering what I would do with them.
You also gave me the relaxing, beautiful chanting of the Hari Krishna group and you have given me their beautiful, delicious $5.00 vegetarian lunches at their cafe located in the Victoria University law school on Bunny Street. I have not made it to your yoga + dinner program http://bhaktilounge.org.nz/programmes/yoga-dinner/ but it looks wonderful and maybe I can squeeze it in. You guys bring a lot of contagious love and peace to Wellington at a time when it is needed most.
You have provided me with “office space” at the George Bar on Willis and Manners. It’s great to know I can just come in, order some hot chocolate and set up my computer all night at a great table in the back next to a wall outlet. I have met some great people in the bar, especially a fascinating guy whose father did a translation of the first adventure novel (17th Century) from German to English --if you want a link to the ebook just let me know. I also made a new friend, a young guy Dominic, who works in the bar and has aspirations to come to the US in the near future. The music at the George is great and on Monday and Tuesday you can get 2 for 1 mains, though they are sort of small--but still.
Above the George Bar is my first residence, the St George Hotel, the same place the Beatles used to stay, only a much shabbier version than what it used to be, though they are currently renovating. St George, you were just ok--Yong and Marron were very good to me but in general your business practices were not so good and you did not embrace my presence, which was sad. You treated some residents better than others and provided some with better situations. You did not show any concern over my issues such as my lack of internet on the 4th floor and instead you joked about wiring the 3rd floor next. Also there is no excuse for providing the very poor cooking facilities with a few broken hotplates when you have hundreds of people in the building trying to prepare food.
Nevertheless, I stayed with you long enough to make lifelong international friends, which was my initial goal. And, despite you being “fine” with me moving out early, I stayed until I was ready to leave and left on my own terms. You have a gem of guy there who is keeping the place running for you and I am not sure you appreciate him but I appreciate him. Sadly, you lost your best employee and I am sure you managed to move on but she made it tolerable for me to live there and she is loved by so many people. Just read the internet reviews over the past many years and you can see the number of people she helped out. I wish you the best and will send you good vibes for self improvement.
Wellington, I am so sorry for the negative digression--You have been kind to me and have taken back my returns at various unnamed stores. I apologize for bringing this seemingly unfavorable un-kiwi trait to your fair city. You guys put up a good fight, but in the end, I prevailed with my persistence. I apologize--it seems that I just could not help myself, but I will work on it when I get home.
You are witness to the revealing outfits and secrets people disclose to one another while waiting for the light to change in order to cross the street. You are kind and non judgemental. You are ok with everybody dressing in their own way and doing their own things and whispering things that would shock the general public. You have also been kind to the many trans people walking around the city. You are loving and held a vigil recently for the Orlando atrocity in a local Wellingtonpark.http://www4.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/81007767/Florida-shootings-New-Zealanders-mourn-with-Orlando
Speaking of politics, you were kind to let us get into the Parliament tour upon our arrival, knowing that right after you ushered us in, you would be shutting the place down due to the TPPA protesters who felt they had not been consulted by this major trade agreement http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/76574941/Protesters-in-Wellington-join-calls-against-TPPA-signing. However, the Wellingtonians are a really talented bunch because on exit, I heard what sounded like a rock concert with amazing covers to listen closer and hear that the lyrics had been customized for the protest. As they say, “good on you!
Wellington, you are home to Peter Jackson and Richard Taylor’s dream, the WETA workshop. They do “creative development, publishing, weapons, props, creatures, makeup, miniatures, public art, merchandise for films such as The Lord of the Rings” and zillions more. They probably do work on more movies than you realize and create a lot of special projects for personal ownership. You can read about their movie projects here http://wetaworkshop.com/projects/gallery No photographs are allowed, but each piece (originals from movies) have elaborate backstories. This group is a major employer in the region having tons of contract employees with highly specialized skills.
Speaking of special skills, you allowed me to meet many amazing educators at the schools I visited, and your #WellyEd #GAFE Wellington professional development events. Wellington is filled with very modest movers and shakers working creatively with and on behalf of their students.I am so inspired after meeting so many forward thinking educators, thank you for hosting me and teaching me!
You host a beautiful, peaceful yet active waterfront, where kids jump off a high metal bar and high school students practice their rowing. You have a lot of restaurants (albeit too expensive for me to eat it) though you are home to Wagamama, a casual “restaurant” chain that has the best view of the waterfront via the huge glass floor to ceiling windows. And, with your juice, small plate, and regular entree selections, there is truly something for everyone.
You have giant table with bench seating that can even accommodate complete strangers (who wind up being Fulbright alums) joining you at a moment’s notice. Your wait staff and manager do everything possible to make sure the customer has things the way they need them. But truly you need to do something with your tacky overpriced dessert menu--especially those tiny apple wonton things for about ten bucks guaranteed to leave someone poor and starving. Still though you get credit for offering to customize your soups, juices, and other foods and you have lots of personality the way you write the order on the placemat. Some of my fondest memories have been made in your place, so thank you!
Oh and what about some of your best kept secrets? Don’t do that! Don’t keep the awesome Home Cafe at the National Library to yourself. And while you are at it, don’t keep the most pleasant, well lit, multi purpose public space at the National Library a secret either. I could spend my life with you. You are comfortable, contemporary, welcoming and you have an adjacent cafe and a 3D printer staffed by a facilitator. You have a great vibe and are only a few blocks away from a magical new world grocery store. I wish I had chosen to live near you. I could have sat on the many public lawns by the nearby government buildings, and done by work every day with you. You are lovely area only a short bus ride to the active CBD (as long as one stays on the flat portion of your area in Thorndon).
And what about the Space place accessible by cable car or bus?! Half price rides on the cable car with your student ID. I loved looking at the stars that night and I am sorry that I messed with the focus of your telescope! Whoops, I did not mean to throw off your presentation when you could not get it back into focus and I am sorry that Nessa and I laughed like 11 year olds--it was just one of those things that made us crack up!
And Wellington Zoo! Bless you for all of the work you have been saving the vulnerable creatures. Thank you for taking care of 1 legged kiwi, the one armed blue penguin and the formerly exploited sun bears. You guys are noble doing great work with education and outreach. Keep up your good work!
Zealandia!Thanks for the personal tour. I have no idea what you said because it was so much specialized knowledge of local birds and other wildlife issues. But have no fear. Emily Stanley can explain it all to me, she is an expert. You are wonderful and I loved learning about the plants, especially the silver fern.
Thank you to the Wellington helpers such as the Apex Car rental guy who is amazing and gave me directions and information for my entire stay,
Thank you to the Wellington city council street ambassadors who were always there to give me directions and help with my packages.
Thank you to the guy who found my phone (the first time I lost it) and made sure I got it back, you rock!
Thank you to Air New Zealand who have amazing customer service both on the phone and in the air. Hopefully one day you will improve your cancellation policy, especially for the poor uni students trying to go home but have sudden changes of plans (and for the rest of us). You are a class act and I made the mistake of flying another airline one time but never made that mistake again. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to donate my airpoints to a school in need for their club travel.
This is the Fulbright New Zealand program staff during our orientation. They did a beautiful job and enabled us to meet amazing people who helped us understand the culture and history of New Zealand!
Wellington! I am sorry that I left some stuff out, but you get the idea right? You are mainly helpful, kind, generous, interesting and caring. Keep up the good work and please give next year’s Fulbrighters nice places to stay, good internet and a break on the rent. #Thxybye
Sue is a teacher and school librarian living in Atlanta, GA, USA. She was in NZ as a Fulbright Distinguished Teacher from Feb-June 2016.