Ethics Proposal Submission Celebration

I spent most of this lovely Tuesday inside, working, planning and submitting my ethics proposal for final review (now I just wait for the committee to meet and sendme changes). I started some serious scheduling of school visits, researching and reading and just general project housekeeping. I also had the opportunity to Skype with Mary Green’s Leadership class at KSU, and teach a class to MAT students at Reinhardt University

After a productive day that lasted until dinner time, I enjoyed dinner with the Ludbrooks, then decided that it was a lovely night for a stroll and relaxing on a rooftop bar I had passed a few times, (across the street from the church I have been visiting). The views from the rooftop were great, and I enjoyed the sunset as I sipped my old fashioned.

On my way back home I was reminded a bit of the universality of the university experience, as it is orientation week here in Wellington and what do I run into on the street, but toga-clad university students. Even over 8,000 miles away – some things do  not change!

The Great War Exhibition and Pukeahu National War Memorial Park

Monday was my first actual school visit, and we visited a lovely high school and had some great conversations with the staff – while most of my project is focused on younger students, I found that it was very beneficial to have the opportunity to see “where the students are headed” and talk about the options for secondary schooling in NZ.

After we finished at the school, I decided I would visit the Great War Exhibition, which was put together by none other than the famous Peter Jackson (it often feels like I am a little bit of a Peter Jackson groupie here in New Zealand, but I will take it – I might totally pull a fan girl moment if I run into him on the street, by the way, #justsaying).

All silliness aside, this exhibition was well done, moving and seriously though provoking. In the US WWI is discussed, but in many cases, education, knowledge and information of WWI is much more overshadowed by WWII – I think owing to the length of our involvement in WWII the US, as well as the fact that, for me (and many of my peers as well), I had a grandfather who fought in WWII, so I was “invested” I guess?

For New Zealanders, the Great War was one of devastating loss. As an isolated island nation, it was also the first glimpse many Kiwis had, post colonization, of the world outside of New Zealand. This journey was well done, and really opened my eyes to the historical roll that NZ forces played in the War. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

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For more information, and much better images than I could hope to capture, visit the Exhibition website:

Just down from the exhibition is the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park and the Hall of Memories. These touching memorials serve to commemorate the losses New Zealand has had in War.

I have a few pictures below, but you can also learn more at the websites: and

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One really cool thing on display was from a school project at one of the local Girl’s High School.

The assignment was to design a gown with the position of being pro or anti conscription in mind.  I loved the gowns, as well as the thoughtful explanations (what a cool design project idea as well!).

Walk Lights in Welly

This is just a short interesting post to share with you about the wonderful, wild world of Welly.

Typical walk lights might look like (little green men, right?):

and many lights in Wellington do.

However, there are 3 locations where the walk lights in a surrounding area take a very different form. I was quite intrigued after seeing this light:

during my first week in Wellington, and had a conversation with the Ludbrooks, because I was curious.

I learned that the Cuba Street Lights were changed in early 2016 to honor Carmen Rupe,  a famous drag queen who made transgender and equal rights a hallmark of her life. Carmen’s story (here and here) is quite fascinating and she was certainly a trailblazer for equal rights in a very tumulus time.

As I dug deeper, I learned that the Cuba Street lights were not the first lights to change. In September of 2014, as a part of New Zealand celebrating the 122 anniversary of giving women the right to vote (the first country in the world to grant universal suffrage to women, mind you) the lights around Parliament in the Thorndon area were changed to Kate Sheppard – who was truly the catalyst in the NZ Women’s Suffrage movement.



I actually saw these walk lights when we toured Parliament, but was busily rushing back to the Fulbright office, and didn’t really think about what I had seen until after I started researching this post, then I visited the National Library, and passed them walking home.

Then I was intrigued, and saw mention that a third light had been added, of a ANZAC soldier at the WW1 memorial, or Pukeahu National War Memorial Park. I happened to be in the area a few days ago, and took a walk a few blocks out of my way, and lo and behold, I was able to confirm that these lights also had a different figure.


As is typical, my curiosity got the best of me – I wanted to know more – so I turned to google, and discovered that the soldier was a Wellington-born soldier who received a Victoria Cross for his heroics, Captain Alfred Shout .

More about Captain Shout

While quite fascinating, these lights have not been without controversy, as you can see in these articles:

Even with all the controversy, the lights seem to be a unique point of pride for Wellingtonians, and the discussion continues of who is next. John PlimmerKatherine Mansfield? Peter Jackson? A sports figure?  Someone joked to me that the Do Not Walk Lights in Miramar near Weta should be Gandalf – in the “you shall not pass” pose. . .

I for one, think it is a brilliant idea. . .

What about you? Creative Light Ideas?


EduCamp Welly

Saturday morning my alarm went off at 7 AM. I was headed to #EduCampWelly – and event I had been excitedly waiting for since probably I found out I was headed to NZ last April. This particular EduCamp had been reccomened to me by so many people I actually lost count, so that was a good sign, right? For my non-teacher friends, an EdCamp is a participant-driven professional learning conference, often labeled as an “unconference” because the sessions are lined up by the participants – that day – and you never know what the day will bring. This video kind of helps explain how it works:

Ed Camps are some of my favorite professional learning opportunities, because of the networking and conversations, and #EduCampWelly was no exception. From the moment I stepped foot on the Raroa Intermediate Campus, I was welcomed with the famous New Zealand Hospitality – in fact, when I walked in – immediately people knew my name – I felt like I was home, amongst my favorite, passionate educator friends as we discussed all of the “teacher shop talk”. I was able to finally meet some social media friends face to face, and make great connections and have fantastic conversations about my inquiry project, school visits and just general life in New Zealand.

I attended sessions on STEM and Math, Global Connections, Project Based Learning and a tour of the school.

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The day ended with Pizza and Prizes. We closed the event, and I even received a traditional kiwi prize of a Cadbury Chocolate Fish, for traveling from the furthest away! 🙂

Then we had pizza, and refreshments. (for my US friends you will not believe that one of  the beverages served to us with our pizza, at a school event,  was beer. I was beyond shocked (and pretty excited, if truth be told).

Great Day, Great People, Great Connections, all for a small Koha (gift/donation)?

Totally worth the early alarm on a Saturday!

A day at the New Zealand National Library in Wellington

Upon the recommendation of Sue (@staffdevjnkie), 2016 #FulbrightTeach to NZ, I set out to explore the National Library of New Zealand in Wellington. It was the perfect place to go where I could work on finalizing my Ethics proposal while still seeing some sights and exploring when I was done – so off I went, devices and notes in hand.

What a cool place – it was like 1 part library, 1 part makerspace, 1 part museum and 1 part awesome cafe.

Interesting display about the naming of locations in New Zealand
You can play games off of the internet archive. Oregon Trail anyone? Don’t click on the link below if you don’t have free time – trust me on that!

So, a library, with video games – can it get better? Why yes, yes it can. . . Behold – the 3D printer station:


You can bring your .stl, .obj or other 3D files here, and print them – when I go into 3D printer withdrawal, I know where I am headed!

But wait . . . There’s more . . .

As if more proof was needed that this is a place for Merry, they have a fantastic coffee shop and cafe – called Home.


So yeah – all of that and several museum type exhibits that I could explore? A heavenly way to spend a Friday.

And from my favorite exhibit, of New Zealand Cartography (map-making) we have the explanation of why it is indeed “Windy Welly”:

And I know, better late than never Merry – I apologize in advance for the spamming you are all about to receive as I update my blog. I obviously need to find a workflow for updating – maybe I will get there before I head home.

Working and More Underwater Adventures

Tuesday was a relatively less adventurous day  – the weather was gorgeous, but alas, I did have to work. I had a great online class class with my Reinhardt students on Assistive Technology and using Excel for data collection, and spent some time reviewing, grading and commenting on their work. Then I responded to some emails regarding school visits and set up a few meetings with folks in New Zealand.

I did take advantage of the gorgeous weather and worked from the balcony for much of the day – it is a fantastic view:

It was amazing how quickly the day went by, and soon Joanna was home and it was dinner time. Julian prepared our dinner – a very nice fish, veggie and soba noodle dish, which we enjoyed on the balcony, then I made my first trip to the big grocery store, (a nice little intro for me, as this will be the one by my apartment), joining Joanna for her shopping. It was very much like an american supermarket, but their was a much larger fresh seafood and produce department, and quite a few of the names were different. I will have some fun later sharing the “american” section with you all – and I have decided that I will make my goal each time I go shopping to get a “new” thing to try.

We got back to the house and I was able to enjoy the NZ famous “Hokey Pokey” ice cream – a vanilla and honey comb toffee ice cream that is most excellent.   Julian also had a lovely cocktail and coffee ready for us on the balcony – all in all a pretty great evening.


I awoke to a gorgeous and unexpectedly free day on Wednesday morning, as our Fulbright group’s school visit for the day had to be cancelled.

Since it was so pretty, I decided to take full advantage of the day, and I got a ride with Joanna to Island Bay, on her way to work complete with snorkel gear, including flippers this time and my underwater camera, as well as lunch and my surface (in case I decided to work) and set out – I might have looked like I was going on a trip with my bag so loaded up!

When I got to the bay I headed to the snorkel trail again – but there was no one else there, and knowing it was irresponsible to  snorkel alone (and knowing that I would be in trouble with some of you if I did – you all know who you are), I sat on the bench and just enjoyed the calm bay and birds around me while I enjoyed an apple, and even spotted a pod of dolphins out in the water.

After a very peaceful hour, a diving crew showed up, and so I chatted with them a bit, and went in, again with the promise to wait on the beach once I was out since they had full wet suits and tanks, and would last longer in the water than I would.

Again the water was chilly, but the clarity was amazing, and the pictures hardly purvey the beauty of the underwater world I found myself immersed in. I saw anemones, limpits,  triplefin fish, wrasse, cod, spotties and crayfish. I even wandered upon a octopus and a few sea cucumbers in the deeper ocean floor. I took my time going around the trail savoring the time and enjoying the sights until I was just too cold to continue. I stayed in the water for about an hour – a lovely hour immersed in the underwater world of Island Bay.

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And a couple of videos:

After I was finished exploring the lovely water, I dried off and warmed up (my toes might have been a little blue) by sitting in the sun for a bit and enjoying my lunch on the beach, I went in search of a cafe with WiFi and a warm coffee. I found a lovely cafe, Floyds, with the most friendly and accommodating staff, and I enjoyed my coffee and a savory cheese muffin while I wrote and attempted to get caught up with my blog.

My flat white from Floyd’s

Joanna picked me up by the cafe on her way home so I didn’t have to spring for bus fare back to the city, and I enjoyed a restful evening at home.

And with that my friends, I am all caught up – well until tonight! 🙂

Writing, submitting a draft, snorkeling and a kiwi-style takeaway dinner at the Bay

Monday (Feb. 20) was another stunningly beautiful day, and as much as I was itching to play, I did have work to do. I spent most of the morning and early afternoon (until about 3:00) finishing the draft of my ethics proposal and ironing out last minute details to send it to my university supervisor for her to take a look at it and give me suggestions, feedback and changes. I got it all finalized, entered into the system and submitted to her, complete with information forms, permission forms and interview schedules. Then I decided it was time to treat myself, so I set off on a snorkeling adventure before dinner. While I did not have anyone to go with me, I banked on the fact that it was a lovely day, and that the Kiwis would be taking advantage of it, and I could find some buddies at the reserve when I arrived, and I was not disappointed. The area around the reserve does deserve some attention – Island Bay is just amazing.

Upon my arrival at the Taputeranga Marine Reserve – I found a father and son duo who were more than happy to be my check-in buddies as we did the snorkel trail.

I went in ahead of them, and promised to remain on the beach until they completed the path so we all knew we were out and clear. The water was cold, but I wasn’t too chilled (however, I will be investing in a warmer wet suit before I do any snorkeling in NZ outside of the summer (brrrr)).

The water was not super clear, so the images I captured were not the best, and I had a GoPro malfunction about 1/2 way through the swim, but you can still get a sense of the beauty – and I have a reason to go back! 🙂

It was a fabulous experience!

As I was leaving the reserve I found the quintessential Kiwi van – it made me giggle a bit.

After I changed, I met Julian and Joanna, who had ordered takeaway Fish and Chips for dinner, and we went to pick them up (all of Wellington had the same idea it seems) then we headed to Paradise Point to meet their son Bart, and his wife Fiona for a traditional kiwi picnic dinner. Bart and Fiona even brought diving booties and flippers for me to borrow for future snorkeling – such nice, kind people – have I mentioned how fortunate I have been to get connected with their family? We had a lovely dinner, great conversation and scenery that just couldn’t be beat.

After we left Paradise Point, Julian and Joanna drove me around so I could see the more remote Owhiro Bay, and as the sun was setting it was just beautiful.

What a full, adventurous day!