Thursday, 03 December 2020


Good to go away, but better to come home

Good to go away, but better to come home

On his recent trip to Europe, Mercury Bay Area School principal, John Wright didn’t just market the school to the international student community, he also took some time to email some of his personal impressions of his journey to his staff at the school.

For Mr Wright it was important to share his thoughts with his staff as his trip wasn’t just to meet student placement agencies and attend education fairs, but also an opportunity to better understand where MBAS’s international students come from.

These are some of the impressions Mr Wright shared with his staff.

"A lot of Europeans smoke. It was quite overwhelming, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Italy. Everywhere I went. And cigarette butts were everywhere. There were no receptacles, so people just threw their butts down. I couldn’t help to wonder how all the smoking would impact on the productivity of those countries. All the hours puffing away, instead of working. And of course the health consequences. A lot of money must be spent on the treatment of smoking-related diseases.

"The German cities are full of graffiti. It’s more like street art, though. Not messy, but certainly not something I’m used to.

"There’s a big focus on renewable energy, especially Germany. I would travel through areas similar to the Hauraki Plains and see hectares and hectares of solar panels with sheep grazing under them. In the cities too, the roofs of buildings are covered in solar panels. It wasn’t as obvious in the Scandinavian countries as they don’t have as much sun.

"In Switzerland I was impressed with their focus on recycling. Virtually all the supermarkets are recycling centres. There are these holes in the wall into which you can drop everything you don’t have use for, glass, plastic, clothes, batteries, you name it. I actually think there’s an opportunity for MBAS to establish a battery recycling centre in Whitianga. It’s something I would like to investigate more.

"Something that made a huge impact on me is the number of homeless people on the streets, especially in the Scandinavian countries and Italy. I asked around and these people are mostly refugees from Eastern Europe and Africa. In Italy the plight of these people really contribute to a country that tells two stories. The grandeur of the Roman times are visible everywhere. But the Italian people are in despair. Their bleak economic and social outlook is tangible. They still struggle with large numbers of unemployment. The 20th century was tough for them and I don’t think they’ve really recovered. I got the idea they don’t really know who they are anymore.

"Coming home I had this overwhelming sense of appreciation of where we live. Yes, there are things we can adopt or do better. But it’s a privilege to have no graffiti in Whitianga. It’s a privilege to have a sense of security. It’s a privilege to have an identity and a sense of belonging. It’s a privilege to be part of a community where there’s a future and where there’s no reason for anyone not to have hope.

"Yes, it was good to go away. It clearly had a purpose and was a successful trip. But it was better to come home."


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