Tahiti, it’s good to see you again

At the risk of sounding like captain obvious, I have to say it’s pretty darn exciting to be back. Unlike the anxiety and stress of my first arrival in Tahiti last August, stepping off the plane this past Sunday in the warm, humid air felt remarkably like I was returning home, or at least to a place that I knew and loved. Putting my toes in the water and looking up at the southern starry sky, I thought for sure I was dreaming.

It’s been a whirlwind week, as all 17 UW students arrived and settled in. Our classes in Tahitian oral traditions and knowledge started, and the planned excursion helped acclimate us to the city of Papeete and our own Punaauia neighborhood. Our group time has been spent snorkeling in the lagoon, talking through the class readings and learning from each other’s questions, eating home-cooked local dishes around the beach-side dinner table, or exploring the market downtown.

While I know I won’t be the wide-eyed newbie I was last time, I’m excited to have the chance to experience new things AND to re-experience activities and lessons through the eyes of others. What attitudes and perspectives will be challenged and changed throughout the quarter? What assumptions do we make about Tahiti, it’s culture, people, and traditions? In what ways will what we learn here influence who we are when we return home? What can I learn from listening to the unique perspectives of some of the other students, not to mention the teachers and friends who help shape our experiences? There are so many questions rattling around in my head, but there’s also a great deal of excitement.

In fact, I don’t think there’s anything I’m not excited about: to come back and see some of the amazing friends and teachers we met during the last trip; to get to know the other students better; to practice my video and photo skills; to learn a little more about researching the specifics of writing a proposal; and to spend as much time in the ocean, learning and exploring, as possible.

It’s truly an amazing opportunity to participate this quarter, one that I am daily grateful for. Tahiti, it’s good to see you again…