Kiwi Birds and Keynotes of Innovation and Social Change

22 November 2013*

*Writing my dates like this just because this is how Kiwis and Brits write dates, and I need to get used to it

Everything I did on this date was spontaneous except for a planned meeting with a contact who works at Wellington Zoo. To keep it simple, here’s a brief summary:

  • Explored Wellington Zoo for a few hours (it’s such a beautiful zoo… very different from LA and SD Zoo, obviously. The rolling hills and forest backdrops obviously aren’t bad scenic views for photos, so I was in tropical heaven just by seeing that)
  • Saw two kiwi birds up close in the kiwi exhibit at the zoo. One sadly was hopping on one leg since its other leg was a stump… I almost cried while watching him hop up and down. Kiwi birds are already endangered species and are sadly defenseless (no claws, wings, etc.), so my heart hurt so much when I saw a tiny one struggling to stay upright. It’s also sad that the zoo releases them after a year old into the bush (forest) to survive from there… I know they need their natural environment, but I do hope this one-legged fella gets treated extra special.
  • Learned that birds and ducks do not budge even if you come within a foot of them
  • Went for a spontaneous 5-hour tramp (hike) up from Newtown to the Mt. Victoria lookout. Since I came from the zoo, I was in knee-high boots (not hiking friendly) and kept pushing myself to go up higher and higher with each corner I turned, thinking I’d eventually turn back down and go back. Nope, I ended up pushing myself so far (perfectionist/OCD levels coming out) that I came across a sign near the Mt. Alfred lookout, “Lord of the Rings filming location,” which rejuvenated me and made me walk even faster to get through the endless amounts of forest. I stumbled upon the hobbit’s hideaway, which is apparently where the “Get off the road!” scene from Fellowship of the Ring was shot. I also stumbled upon a tour guide I knew from LinkedIn (same one I encountered outside Weta Cave the week before) on his tour (he had texted me that same morning… eerie coincidence). Wellington is pretty darn small for this to happen. The panoramic views of the city were just breathtaking. On the hike back, I somehow ended up on the same path I had hiked the weekend before in my spontaneous exploring, so I knew my way back home by memory already. Wellington is perfect for the directionally-challenged Debbis out there… just keep walking until you wind up back where you started in a circle.
  • With practically no energy and very sore feet, I attended the opening ceremony for Festival for the Future (thanks to Zach for the ticket). I’m very glad I did, since I met wonderful people, including a Kiwi who studied abroad at UCSB and also knows four of my friends from there. There was a great taiko performance, a few keynote speakers who were very inspirational (especially an individual who talked about the challenges of being bullied with a disability and has since started a social enterprise that allows anyone with a disability to be mentored to achieve their dreams), and lots of networking opportunities.

23 November 2013

Day 1

Festival for the Future:

Social innovation/justice/change. Young professionals, career-minded and ambitious. Basically, a conference that interested me in all aspects! I felt so lucky to attend this 2.5 day event.

Contribute to change for a more just world. Dream it, say it, do it. Do what you are passionate about; never be afraid to change when the time is right. Celebrate failure. Assume you’ll be wrong the first time; keep working at it until you’re right. 

One of my favorite quotes from one of the speakers who asked someone in their community about environmental improvements was, “We can’t have solar since it’s always cloudy here.” Oh, New Zealand…

24 November 2013

Day 2

More keynote speakers and workshops wrapped up the conference, and by the end, I was left feeling inspired but also mentally drained. So many ideas, quotes, life stories, and experiences thrown at us, and so little sleep and time to digest everything. I deeply benefited from it, but also was relieved once I got to come home and nap (I sound like such an old person).

It was on this day that I also realized that my passion is to raise awareness and hope, both for the general public as well as anyone suffering from, an eating disorder, especially from my struggles and experiences.

One of the workshops was about creative entrepreneurship. An exercise prompted us with, “What is your superpower?” I always freeze when I have to say this, since I don’t have something I immediately think I’m good at. Hate math and science, awful at sports, not an artist by any means (like all the Weta people out here)… and then I thought about what I love to do. I love to write, doodle/design, surf/swim, anything involved in -music and film, volunteer with animals… combine all of these and you have my top passions. Basically, if you know your likes and interests, you can easily draw from something in that category and pinpoint something you’re good at and love doing. For me, that’s writing (I’m more of a written expresser than a verbal expresser).

The moral of this conference to me revolved around Walt Disney’s quote, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Even though I might not be the right type of person to enact social justice and change the world, I did learn that I can do things that make me happy and combine my passions on the side.

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