February 26, 2011

Dunedin Does Its Part

While Christchurch continues to grapple with liquefaction, aftershocks and a rising death toll, many people here in Dunedin are searching for what they can do.  There is almost a desperation in the air, as people long to do something

Perhaps that's why today's collection of bagged lunches has been such a huge success. 

University of Canterbury based Student Volunteer Army received a fair amount of media attention after they formed and mobilized themselves, largely via Facebook, after the September quake. (Yet again, behold the power of social media!)  They have mobilized again and thousands of student volunteers are expected to respond to calls for non-emergency assistance around the quake zone. I checked out their website and it is strikingly simple in this day of hyped up media everything. It is strictly functional. Either register that you need non-emergency help. Or that you are available to help.  Follow their updates on Facebook.

A message requesting bagged, non-perishable lunches for the Student Volunteer Army went out to Dunedin yesterday. The goal: to collect 10,000 lunches.  With two hours of collection left today, I believe they now have over 14,000 lunches. 

February 23, 2011

Another Quake

A 6.3 earthquake hit Christchurch yesterday afternoon causing massive damage, electricity outages, flooding and worst - fatalities and people trapped in the rubble.

I know some of my family would like to get more coverage than what is being provided in the USA, so here are a few links to try.  There may be better ones, but these are the ones I know and have been tuned into so far:

This US site link has some powerful photos, some of which are a bit different than what I have seen in NZ coverage: The Washington Post.

We're fine; Christchurch, not so much.

February 15, 2011

We Like to Make Stuff

Stuff is expensive in NZ.  Well, a lot of stuff.  Relatively speaking.  I didn't know it until I moved here, but growing up in America, I was used to cheap stuff. When that's what you are used to, it's quite the adjustment to move somewhere where stuff is not so cheap.  Take books for example. A standard paperback, a new best seller, is about $30.00.  A Gore-Tex raincoat?  About $700.  A DeWalt Battery Drill? $400.  James says in the states that drill is about $100 at Home Depot.  A can of black beans?  $3.50 here in Aotearoa.

I've started making toasted granola to replace the crunchy granola bars I used to buy  in the states. 
Every American expat I know orders things on line to be sent over, or has a running list as long as his or her arm of stuff to get on the next trip back or to have some unsuspecting visitor bring over with them.

February 4, 2011

You Know, the Matukituki

One detail about moving to a new town in a new country that I never would have anticipated is the frequent inability to participate in many group conversations about people (I don’t know) and events and places (I’m not familiar with). We all know this scenario – you’re with a friend and a bunch of their friends that you don’t know well, or you’re with your spouse and his or her coworkers and they’re all talking about their workplace politics or the nasty management folks. You just smile, nod and maybe sneak a peek at your watch after a while.

The Matukituki!

When you are a new (or relatively new) migrant, this happens a lot – and not just about people you don’t know yet, but about politics, historical common knowledge, pop culture and places. That’s why a lot of migrants talk about where they come from a lot and start many bits of input with “well, in America” or “back in Alaska”. Even though you cringe when you hear those words come out of your mouth (“this one time, in band camp”), for a long time that’s the only way you can chime into the conversation at all; that’s all you can offer. It takes a while to accumulate a stock of local knowledge and experiences to draw upon, allowing you to join into a chat with a group of local folks.