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Monday, 11 June 2018 17:02

A week with the French Young Ambassadors

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Emma and I taking in the stunning view of Wellington. Emma and I taking in the stunning view of Wellington.

Bonjour a tous! The Young Ambassadors exchange is really picking up pace. In the autumn holidays we spend a week with the French Young Ambassadors in Wellington. It was so fantastic meeting the French Young Ambassadors and throughout the week we got to know each other really well. It was so special sharing experiences like the powhiri and the overnight stay at the Waiouru Army Camp with them because they were completely new for most of us! Being in an environment where French was the default language was quite challenging but also very exciting and satisfying at times because it pushed me to be bold with my French and speak as much as I could. I think my French improved a lot over the week, and it was great preparation for July! I was incredibly lucky to host one of the French Young Ambassadors, Emma for two days in Wellington. The first day was very fine so we were able to go for a walk up the hill near my house and see the breathtaking view of Wellington. The second day we met up with the other French and Kiwi Young Ambassadors in Wellington and went bowling and biking on the waterfront. I thoroughly enjoyed showing Emma around Wellington and showing her my family life as well. In the few hours before she had to leave to the airport on Monday morning I took Emma to my school where she joined my French class. I loved showing her my school! It was so interesting discussing the cultural similarities and differences in our schools and family lives and I’m so excited to be hosted by her in France! For my research project I have been trying to find more information on what Aro Keith Baker was like as a person. Since he was forgotten in our family history I want to find more personal details so I can understand who he was as a person and connect with him in that way. I have gathered a lot of information from the Christchurch Law Society, as they have compiled information about his school and university life, and his short but prosperous career as a lawyer. From this information I have found out where he fought and on what dates, as well as many other important details about his injuries and his time in hospital in Cairo. I have found out that he is buried at the Cite Bon Jean graveyard and my granddad is giving me a photo of Keith to place on the grave when I visit it in July. I don’t want his existence or his sacrifice to be forgotten and it saddens me that he has been forgotten until now. My main focus now is to understand the personal details of his life before and during the war. I have also been doing research into the poet Katherine Mansfield’s brother Leslie Beauchamp. Leslie had a war story very similar to Keith’s and is actually buried about ten minutes away from him at the Ploegstreet Wood Cemetery in Belgium. Katherine wrote several beautiful poems about the loss of her brother and I’ve found that her emotional response to his death has helped me connect with Keith further because I understand what his family member’s might have felt after he died. Katherine’s poetry helps me connect further with Keith and the sacrifices he made in WW1. I hope to visit Leslie Beauchamp’s grave at the Ploegstreet Wood Cemetery so I can honour him as well. I am beyond excited to continue my research project in France and meet all the French Young Ambassadors again and hear their side of the story. I’m looking forward to visiting all of the places where Keith fought as well as his grave. I will be the first person in the family to visit his grave so I am very excited and lucky to visit it.

Read 1071 times Last modified on Thursday, 14 June 2018 21:46

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