Community: Doing Life Together

Students Enjoying a Kaikoura Beach Fire.

Students Enjoying a Kaikoura Beach Fire.

whanau: (noun, pronounced: fa-no) extended family, family group, a familiar term of address to a number of people - in the modern context the term is sometimes used to include friends who may not have any kinship ties to other members.

The Maori people of New Zealand have a very strong sense of identity:  One’s relationship to God, the land, and the people you come from and live with—in Maori, whanau—form who you are.   At CCSP SoPac, and as Christ-followers, we strive to embrace this emphasis on whanau, or community-living, with joy.

Our intentional community is the scaffold around which the semester experience in New Zealand is built. Students find that their time here is not solely about adventure, academics or being abroad, but also an experience in home-making with peers.

To call this campus at the beautiful, historic Old Convent home—even if only for a few months—is to join alongside one another in work, play, service and celebration. When it’s time to clean the chicken coop, we put on some gloves and work together. When it’s time to burn some energy, we cycle to the local field together for a game of touch rugby or ultimate frisbee. When it’s time to plant trees in an effort to restore native coastline, with hope and joy, we dig together. When it’s time to pick peaches off our tree and make a pie for dessert or preserve them for colder months, we do it together.

In the CCSP New Zealand whanau we share stories, food and responsibility. We challenge each other, love each other and pray for each other. Together we cry tears of sadness, hilarity, frustration and joy.  

Another important part of our life together is the opportunity to be “unplugged” for a while. North American culture loves information technology that, ironically, has us staring at screens that wind up screening us from real interactions with other humans. At the Old Convent, students are encouraged to leave a lot of those screens behind. Each semester the students formulate a contract for technology use, which includes self-created guidelines for the use of our limited internet supply. It is refreshing to come up with more creative, edifying recreation in the place of watching movie after movie, surfing YouTube, or perusing and updating Facebook.

We see this intentional community as a beautiful laboratory for living out what we learn in class. It is rarely easy but always worthwhile.  So we invite you to set aside aspirations for an individually focused semester experience, and come join the CCSP at the Old Convent in Kaikoura, New Zealand where together we focus on living sustainable, creative, Christ-centered lives.