After last week’s post I thought we’d switch gears and lighten things up around here. As much as I try to alter the atmosphere from one week to the next, I don’t want to get stuck running in circles. So after you take a bite out of this one, let me know what you think!
Ah Kiwi. This mouth-watering brown fuzzy berry has grown in popularity since the mid twentieth century. It’s a sweet little fruit no bigger than the size of a hen’s egg that packs a whole lot of punch. And when the Kiwi is cut open, it is then we are introduced to the splendor of its beautiful lime green center. Yes, this is a fruit with a refreshing heart.
Yet, since most of us are smack in the middle of the northern hemisphere’s winter solstice, I thought we might benefit from another type of Kiwi that is sure to warm us all up from the inside out.
New Zealand is an island country situated some 900 miles east of Australia across the Tasman Sea. It sits roughly 600 miles south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. And because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans.
There is a plethora of wonderful details that say much about this charming picturesque country. However, there is a unique relationship that I’d like to share with you that exists within close proximity of my backyard and this gorgeous Island nation. It involves an exchange program that was set up to benefit the youth in this area and New Zealand. And it only happens every three years.
The Huntington Beach Junior Lifeguard program was launched in 1963 with an initial class of 24 students that has now blossomed into a remarkable average of 1,100 students each year. Its purpose is to educate young people in the potentially dangerous ever-changing oceanic environment.
The program is world renown for teaching safety, respect, physical fitness, instruction and discipline, along with C.P.R. and other lifesaving methods, with students enrolling from other states such as Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, New York, Oregon, Utah and countries such as Germany, France, England, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and Mexico.
Since New Zealand is situated in the southern hemisphere, they are experiencing summer weather that is perfect timing for this exchange. I don’t know about you, but just thinking about this makes me warm up already. 🙂
So over a span of three weeks, starting the last week of December, a well rounded group of 28 junior lifeguards who successfully passed an interview and were able to gather the necessary $4300.00 for the trip abroad were chosen because they would represent the junior lifeguard program, their high school and the city of Huntington Beach.
They devoted a week in Queenstown where they took in most of the sites and hiked up a glacier, then spent time building an international relationship with fellow junior lifeguards at the northern beaches of Piha and Tairua. There, they were taught about the native culture, though most of their time was devoted to learning local lifeguard techniques.
One of their drills included a night dive into a cave off the coast of Tairua. “It was pitch black and we only had glow sticks attached to our heads,” said sixteen year old Holly Fosmire. “It was pretty scary.” That sounds like a simulating nighttime rescue which I’m quite sure left a lasting impression.
They even completed a helicopter rescue jump though there won’t be any jumps of that nature occurring in the waters of Huntington Beach since this coastline doesn’t harbor any rock cliffs. Yet, the exercise did give that group of junior lifeguards a different perspective on how to tackle rescue issues in their local waters.
Can you imagine what an adventure this was for these young people? Besides the new technical training, every single one said they hoped to take home with them fond memories of that beautiful island nation with all its gorgeous scenery, world-class beaches, diverse culture, and the many new friendships that were made. They knew this was a trip of a lifetime.
Yes, in this case, the sweet taste of Kiwi was more than just a fruit!
It was refreshing!
So what do you think? Have you ever had the opportunity to experience an adventure of a lifetime? Were you ever a lifeguard or taught CPR? Is there an exchange program that your city is involved with? Do you like to travel? Have you ever visited New Zealand? Or do you prefer Kiwi as a sweet mouth-watering fruit?
Thank you so much for dropping by and for all your wonderful comments!