I’m 23 years old, why do I care about an old war? Well, from a very young age, I had the wonderful privilege of being immersed in a world of handwritten journals, black and white photographs, and evenings with family watching old picture slides.
My grandparents taught me the importance of preserving our stories, recognising the relevance of historical events in society today, and valuing lessons we can continue to learn from them.
It nurtured my love of history and a passion for delving into significant historical events like World War One. While the stories of my ancestors are seemingly from a distant past, learning about each generations’ experiences helps to bridge that time gap, creates a stronger connection to my family, and supports me to build a stronger self-identity.
I loved reading my grandmother’s journals, with beautifully told stories about adventures like Pop (her father) traveling the Grimsel Pass in Switzerland. That inspired me to drive this same road on my OE last year.
Beyond the personal narratives, studying events like World War One at a young age inspired many life lessons and instilled values I live by today. It encourages empathy and gratitude for the sacrifices made by those who went to war and creates a deeper awareness about how war was a catalyst for many significant societal changes.
As a young woman, reading non-fiction war books were a reminder that World War One led to the challenging of gender roles and women’s rights, as well as advancements in technology and medicine. Additionally, as future leaders, history equips us with the knowledge to understand the consequences of conflicts within international politics and motivating us to aim for peace.
When I look at my niece and nephew, I can’t help but feel a sense of duty to pass on that sort of knowledge – even if that turns me into their slightly eccentric aunt!
Having experiences like visiting Le Quesnoy last year enables me to connect, reflect, and learn.
In a similar vein, the creation and development of the NZ Liberation Museum – Te Arawhata in Le Quesnoy is based on three themes: freedom, friendship, and the future.
The world I live in today is still impacted by war. But if we can tell the stories of wars past, then maybe, just maybe, we will one day learn that we have to find another way to settle our differences.
My love of history and my love of understanding my own family’s history comes from the many experiences I’ve had talking to relatives, reading books, and travelling to incredible places on my OE. It’s these sorts of experiences that I hope will continue to shape my understanding for many years to come.
The excitement of overseas travel