The scenery in New Zealand was absolutely spectacular and nothing short of that. Beyond the greenery and fjords, this wild country captured my heart with its people. Quite frankly, I think there’s a lot we can learn from them.
I’m from South (New) Jersey, where the people are friendly enough, a smile and a wave when they pass by. It’s nothing overwhelming, but it’s still a nice environment. It wasn’t until visiting New Zealand that I experienced the genuine kindness and interest of a stranger as a general rule of thumb, and I mean that in the best way possible. It’s a step up from South Jersey, and a monster step from North Jersey, but that’s a whole other can of worms we won’t get into.
Aside from the generic ‘how are you’ which no one actually cares about the response to, people would ask where we’ve been, where we’re headed, why we’re here, and would even offer up ideas of things to do and where to go next. Every person, and I mean every single one, walked by and would smile and say hello. I’ve never had so many conversations with so many strangers. I’ve never learned so much about so many people in such a short amount of time. It’s amazing to me that we know so little about all of the people around us.
We’re surrounded by so many people and so much social media all of the time that we’ve almost dehumanized each other. We’ve become just another profile, another ‘like’ on Instagram. The singular quality that makes us so innately human is our desire for connection and socialization. We’ve entrenched ourselves so deeply in digital socializing that we’ve forgotten how to do it in person.
I think my favorite thing about the Kiwis is that they have this way of reminding me that we are all so much more connected than we think.THAT’S what the Kiwis taught me. To be present, here with each other. To genuinely want to know how the other is doing. Every person you walk past has a life, valuable knowledge, a story to tell. There is something that we can learn from every person we meet, and talking to them is a great way to figure it out.
The people of New Zealand are kind and curious, and I hope that one day I can be more like the Kiwis.