I am a Year 12 student at Wellington Girls College and I have been studying French since Year 7. The french language and culture has always fascinated me. In 2014 I went to Paris for four days and it was an incredible experience, however I only got to experience a small slice of French culture and I reluctantly went back home craving more!
In 2013 my family moved to Sweden for my mum’s work. It was my first time ever leaving New Zealand and the culture shock was insane to say the least. Having never travelled out of New Zealand before, I had never experienced any other cultures and suddenly I was thrown in the deep end of a confusing Scandinavian culture that was like nothing I had ever experienced before. However my two years in Sweden made me so passionate about different cultures and all of the traditions and and characteristics in them. I hope that throughout this trip I will be able to learn more about the French culture and actually immerse myself in it and make connections with people.
To me being a Young Ambassador means promoting youth engagement in the commemoration for WW1. Many of our ancestors who fought in the war were around our age and it’s extremely special to be able to commemorate their journey by taking the journey that they took (minus the boat ride to Egypt of course) and going to the areas where they fought and experienced hardships that we can’t begin to imagine.
This trip is important to me because my great grandfather and great uncle fought in France in WW1. My great uncle Aro Keith Baker died fighting in France but my great grandfather Norman Morriss survived and returned to Australia. I want to learn more about the actions that they took and commemorate them. It is so easy for stories to get lost in time and people’s lives and hardships forgotten. Before I started my research about my two ancestors, I hardly knew anything at all. However as I continued to dig, I found a surprising amount of information about Aro Keith Baker. Before he enlisted at the age of 21 he was a keen sportsman and a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court. I didn’t know anything about the journey that my two ancestors took and now I’ve realised that there is so much that I didn’t know about them. I wish to commemorate their lives and journeys as well as the strong and significant relationship between France and New Zealand that has shaped our countries politically and culturally.
I feel very honoured to have the opportunity to go on this trip and participate in the Following Family Footsteps programme. I am excited to celebrate the special relationship between New Zealand and France, to learn more about the journeys that my ancestors took during the war, and to meet my fellow Young Ambassadors who I’ll be sharing this wonderful experience with!