I stepped onto the plane headed for Auckland, New Zealand thinking I had it all figured out. I wasn’t totally sure what to expect, but I was sure that everything would fall into place. That was about 6 weeks ago. I can confidently say that nothing has fallen into place, and I’ve never been more grateful. Since embarking on my first solo journey out of the United States I have been met with surprise after surprise and challenge after challenge. I quickly realized that any preconceptions I had should be tossed aside along with my fears and reservations﹣there simply isn’t room for that sort of thing here. As a Labour Campaign intern there’s only room for the essentials: passion for true political change, commitment to the cause, and willingness to make a lot of epic friends in a very short period of time. Sounds easy enough, right?
It didn’t take me too long to realize that something wasn’t quite right about my formula. I definitely had the passion, the commitment was there, and some of the friendships I’ve made here will be lifelong. What I lacked was understanding﹣a common American affliction. I was surprised to realize how little I knew about the country whose government I was trying to change and whose citizen’s lives I would be affecting. I was shocked to learn of Auckland’s crippling housing crisis where owning a home is a pipe dream at best for people my age. It broke my heart to hear that the country I was growing to love so dearly has the highest suicide rate in the world among teenagers. With more of a grasp on the pulse of New Zealand and a deeper understanding of its people and its history I felt like my being here could actually make a difference.
As of today, I have one month left of my New Zealand experience and no two days as a Labour Campaign intern have been the same. I believe in the politicians that I am supporting here in a way that I cannot always say back at home. Maybe it’s their Kiwi hospitality or maybe they are just wholesome, honest politicians. Either way, I believe that the New Zealand Labour Party wants to help its people and change this country for the better, and I believe that it will.