I first heard about this exchange in 2014 when one of my good friend’s sister did it. I loved looking through all her photos as I had recently just been on a school trip to Japan, so looking through her photos was the coolest thing, seeing her experience in another country. In 2015 someone I know also went through the Programme. Looking through her photos yet again I thought man, I really miss travelling; I really want to travel again! So I waited until I heard about an info evening, to figure out how to try and get into the Programme, as I was dead keen.
When I told my Mum and Dad about Sister Cities, they both said no straight away. "'Nah Krishna, we have a dog, nah Krishna we won't have time or the money..." All those types of excuses. I showed them pictures of the girls I knew that did the exchange to try to convince them that I could do this, I could be traveling again, but still they wouldn't budge. I managed to get Dad to come to the 2015 information evening with me, so he could officially decide for himself, but he still said no. But I filled out all the application forms anyway, because I was dead set on applying, you know. In the end I guess Mum and Dad saw how much I truly wanted to go for this, and ended up signing papers too.
When Mariah, David, and Carm arrived in Wellington Airport, I was so, so nervous. We greeted them with a haka then basically introduced ourselves! Mariah was so open and so happy which was the coolest thing. The three families went out for brunch to get to know our new American friends a little bit more. When Mariah arrived home with us, Mariah and I talked all day, legitimately all day. It was like we had known each other forever! We also watched movies and ate New Zealand foods like pineapple lumps.
While Mariah, David, and Carm were in New Zealand, they did so much activities, like going to museums, down to Picton for the day, and Zealandia, but we also hung with them too after school, going to the pools, potluck dinners and movie nights. One thing I know that stuck out for me personally and my sister Mariah, was the Rotorua trip. All the families getting the chance to live together for the weekend and do fun things like bungy jump, zipline and freefall was seriously so, so much fun. We also took them to Hobbiton, which they loved so much, and was definitely a highlight. Mariah also got to meet my friends, who by the way all LOVE her now! She also came to my school prom, which was cool! Getting the chance to experience things around New Zealand with the Americans was also amazing, showing off our home was awesome, and seeing how much they loved New Zealand was the coolest.
Arriving in Tempe was crazy. It was so hot but me, Ariana, and Taylor got the warmest welcome from our families, with of course signature welcome pun signs! I slept for 20 hours that day; I was so tired. The cool thing was I fitted right in straight away. I got along with each and every family member so well which I'm so happy about. I was able to be myself straight away. One thing that surprised me (besides the 40+ degree heat!) was how much of a grid Arizona was. All the streets were dead straight while in New Zealand, the roads curve non stop, hills everywhere etc.
So yeah, I just want to say thank you so much for picking me for this exchange, once again it's truly changed my life for the better!! I can't express enough how amazing it was, and how amazing everyone is! Even though fundraising was hard work, very hard work, we got through it and it was totally worth it. So, thank you so much!!