We have caught up with two of the students that have returned from the USA/ Canada 2019 Rugby Tour with a whole lot of stories and new experiences to share.
The group spent the last part of the year in Canada and then USA, playing rugby and exploring new places and cultures. The tour has been going for 30 years now, led by Chris Burns who, over the 30 years has taken 7 groups and made lifelong friendships and connections with people, schools and businesses in Canada and USA. These relationships will see Trident host a school rugby game with a team that the boys played in USA this term.
Ethan Forbes says he was nervous about heading overseas without family for his time. Prior to leaving, he had only been overseas once before with family, so leaving as a junior with a group of mainly seniors put Ethan in a place where he was out of his comfort zone. All the nerves he felt quickly turned into excitement and Ethan says the group was really close and he felt comfortable with them all quickly. Not having his mum to tell him what to do and look out for him was something he missed but Ethan and the younger tour members had Mr Moore and Ms Elliott look out for them and meant they felt well supported and they enjoyed the whole experience. Ethan says he also valued the support of Kade Taylor and Arlen Harvey, senior students who had done the same tour as juniors, so they knew how out of their depth the younger boys felt and really looked out for them. Te IwiKino Kepa had never left New Zealand prior to the tour, so like Ethan, he was a bit nervous, mostly about flying. This nervousness quickly turned into more excitement than nerves though and now flying is not on his radar of something to worry about.
While the fundraising was long and hard work, it paid off big time and Ethan would happily do it all again should the opportunity arise. He hopes other students will commit to doing an overseas trip with the school if they can as he has returned feeling a lot more responsible for himself now and has a new sense of confidence in managing himself which he thinks will translate into everything he does at school. Te IwiKino echos Ethan and says he feels a lot more mature now, and humbled by the size of the world and how small we are here in little Whakatane.
Ethan’s favourite experience was in LA where he says it felt a bit more like home with the warmer temperatures and the fact that the group got to stay together in a hotel, not billetted for the first time. In LA they spent time at lots of theme parks and explored the city, with Disneyland being Ethan’s top pick.
Te IwiKino can’t pinpoint a specific place as being his favourite, but says the best part of the tour was spending weeks with good people, having a good time and playing good rugby. He did however especially enjoy Canada where he says it was more relaxed than the USA. Staying with billets meant they got to see another way of life and he says the houses were all really amazing and HUGE. The group got to go to a few different houses as the billets organised parties to attend and meet up with the rest of the group.
Playing rugby in different countries was a great experience and Ethan places the game against Yale Secondary School in Canada at the top. Lots of the school came to watch the game and treated the Trident boys as celebrities as they played ‘real’ rugby!
Something Ethan didn’t realise how unprepared for he was, was going to Breckenridge in Denver, where the -21 degrees day made for a shocking experience! Having 7 layers of clothes did little to ward of the chill of that temperature, but the group still had fun skiing and driving snowmobiles for a day.
Te IwiKino quickly recollects the thing that amazed him the most on tour - the amount of homeless people in America. Sights that will forever be with him - ‘suburbs’ of homeless people in a quantity he had never imagined. It made him grateful for where he is from and again, humbled by the poverty some people face.
Both Te IwiKino and Ethan, along with all the students who travelled abroad and stepped out of their comfort zone are thankful for the opportunity that Mr Burn, Ms Elliott and Mr Moore supported them to take advantage of. Trident thanks Mr Burns for all the fundraising and tours he has led students and other teachers through, making connections around the world and putting Trident on the map.