What I have been up to

Well, I have been up Mt Eden, or better Maungawhau, a lot. Better than the view from up there is actually getting up there via this steep bush walk, because on your way up you already get a glimpse of Auckland from different perspectives. At first just above the roofs of the houses and then you can already see the coastline framed by branches of trees from both sides. Once on top I am always surprised that I am actually standing at the crater of a volcano! Of course a non-active volcano. Looking around you can not only see the skyline of Auckland city center, but you also see these other volcanos covered in grass by now that are spread across Auckland. Or better: Auckland is spread across and around these volcanos.

But most importantly, you get beautiful sunsets from up here. Especially on a day with a few clouds. From up here everything seems small, okay and just peaceful. (Apart from all the tourists taking pictures – yes, I am half-local by now.)
So I have been in Auckland for over a month now. I have settled in that long-term accommodation called Rocklands in Epsom close to the Mt Eden shops (that is important because there is a German bakery at the Mt Eden shops which consequently means: I actually get German bread here!). I have already spend some afternoons at Olaf’s (= German bakery) and their iced coffee is amazing.

I guess for most part of the day I am occupied with making life more peaceful – whether in relationships, in families, or on a global scale. I am actually only half-joking, because that is sort of what we do at the Peace Foundation. Obviously being a relatively small NGO in New Zealand we haven’t succeeded in implementing world peace yet, but we do try to create a peaceful environment at any level of the everyday life. Okay this does sound awesome and it actually also is!

One of the main focus is peace education in schools training secondary students and primary teachers in conflict resolution skills and mediation techniques. I have learned so much helping out at these workshops (yes, I actually do co-facilitate these trainings which results in the students calling me MISS!!!). For example, when it comes to conflict behavior I am more of a teddy bear trying to get to be an owl – even though my sister could probably testify that I can also be a shark. If you are confused about these animals – I was too. If you are interested I am happy to tell you all about it. I actually have to think of some people when looking at the conflict characteristics of certain animals…
I have also learned that I can actually work with students, I can teach a class, I can do role plays and above all, I do enjoy doing all of these things!

Another project I am working on at the moment is called Global Wave 2015. This is a global campaign to take a stand against nuclear weapons and to wave goodbye to nukes. Global = all of you can participate. The Peace Foundation is the national co-ordinator for New Zealand and guess what, I am doing that. Okay half of the time I am improvising. But so far it works out. So just to get you excited: from April 27 onwards the parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) will meet in New York. Beforehand the Global Wave is going around the world with civil society, politicians, celebrities, religious leaders, individuals waving goodbye to nuclear weapons. These small wave actions should be photographed or filmed and send to info@globalwave2015.org and then they will be presented to the states at the conference. Here is the official website: http://www.globalwave2015.org. They are also on Facebook – as is the Peace Foundation. 😉 (www.peace.net.nz – you actually find a portrait of all the interns on their website and have a look at Events, April)

There are so many other things I am involved with like the International Cultural Festival or the White Ribbon campaign to end domestic violence against women.

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And the best thing is that the team, the staff members as well as the other interns, are just lovely people. I know – you would expect that if it is called The Peace Foundation, but it is worth mentioning nevertheless.

I could stop here and just leave you with all the information about my work. But that wouldn’t be the full picture. The full picture also includes panicking over finding accommodation in Auckland, being shocked by the housing prices, adapting to a new environment, to new people, to a new routine – which is after all challenging. You might think because I have done this a couple of times now, it gets easier. Actually it doesn’t. I still felt insecure and afraid of how things would work out. And how should it not? Starting from scratch somewhere new is a challenge. But I am always willing to give it a try and I will continue to do this. Because the alternative would be not doing it. And look at what I would have missed out on…

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