Julianne and Andre Hutley are the parents of Kristina Hutley who was a 2014 student delegate. The following is their perspective of their involvement in the student exchange.
When our daughter, Kristina, first came and told us she’d like to go to America and asked us to pay for a ticket for her to go - we obviously said, no! We said, “Do it when you are older – our parents never paid for us to travel – you’ll enjoy it with your own friends, not your parents!”
Kristina has wanted to visit America for a long time and so we were very impressed when she came and told us that she had found a way of getting there without us having to pay for it. She had been told about the Hutt Sister City Exchange and the five week student exchange programme. We went to the Information Night and met the previous year’s students who were all very enthusiastic about their trip to Tempe.
Kristina was over the moon when she was selected in October 2013 - but we were a little unsure. The expectation was that we would work with three other families to jointly raise $10,000-$15,000 to cover the Tempe students costs whilst they were here. This also went towards covering the remaining cost of our students’ airfares. On top of this, we had to plan a five week itinerary when the four Tempe students came to visit. We only had eight months to do this. It seemed a huge mountain to climb!
Our first meeting with the Student Co-ordinator went well - we met all the other families and we were offered a fundraising opportunity to stocktake at Pak n Save - within a few weeks, we were on our way! Everyone pitched in with ideas of how to fundraise - and we made sure we had a couple of social get togethers as well - so it wasn't all hard work, and no play.
We had a lot of fun with our fundraising - catering a Christmas dinner, security at the Sevens, a Casino Night amongst the more memorable highlights.
In February 2014, the Tempe students were selected and they were paired off with our students. After finding out that Emma was our student, Kristina skyped her - they were on the computer for five hours!!!! Over subsequent Skype visits, we also met Emma’s family which was very reassuring - especially for Emma’s Mum as the Tempe students visited us first.
The four students arrived in June and we had the most amazing, full-on adventure with them. Our student, Emma was delightful and she instantly became a family member. I knew that when Kristina visited Tempe she was going to have a wonderful time - and she did.
Even though this exchange was for Kristina, we found that we gained a lot from it as well. First off, we met three other families - strangers, who we now call friends. Last Christmas, we had a big “family” get-together and sent a photo through to our Tempe families.
Andre and I were then fortunate to visit Las Vegas in April 2015, so we decided to visit Tempe, Arizona as it was only a 6 hour drive from Vegas. We spent a couple of days in Tempe - staying with Emma’s family - and the rest of the Tempe families came and had dinner with us on our last night. We all got on like a house on fire.
In December 2015, Emma and her mother, Jennifer, visited us in New Zealand for Christmas. They met our extended family, and we had a reunion with the 2014 NZ students and their families. After Christmas, we took them to the South Island for a 10 day tour - they loved the scenery and we all had an awesome, memorable holiday.
For us, the 2014 Hutt Tempe student exchange has continued - and with another daughter indicating she’d like to experience, we look forward to making more friendships - here and in Tempe.