The following is an excerpt from a larger blog entry by SWY29 NZ delegation member Annie Page.

The rest of Annie’s beautiful blog piece can be found at https://fourcornersofacircle.blogspot.com/2018/01/shutting-door-on-swy.html


Everyone has said it. The best part of SWY was the people. The diversity, the complexity, the unity. We shared with one another and learnt what it truly meant to share with one another. Not shying away from those hard topics with tears acting as permission to push further. Together we created a story. Pages that will not be bound by a hardcover, because it lives on through both ends. One day my grandchildren will read about these people in the history books and I will think back to the conversations at the dinner table and under the stars and feel privileged to have been part of their lives even if it was for a few short months… When you travel to a country, you forfeit your normal way of life and absorb the new culture. It is a gradual transition that happens on your own terms. SWY was different though, the cultures came to us. And it was a collision. The theory of collision in physics goes one of two ways. When two objects collide either they stick together and travel in the same direction or they repel each other and break away. What happens when you add eleven elements? Potential chaos, but weirdly that never happened. We gave the middle finger to science. Sure, it wasn’t always sunshine and butterflies, misunderstandings were common, along with words taken out of context and different definitions of where lines should be drawn, but somehow those conflicts were never big enough to upset our harmony.
What makes me sad is the realisation of how rare the environment of Nippon Maru was. An environment where love was preached on a daily basis, where empowerment and the connections fostered with each other created the safest place on earth. And it was genuine. Not a mask in sight. To me this is SWY sickness – shouldering the burden of knowing what our world could be like. The helplessness that I feel watching it go in the other direction despite all of the efforts that I make. It breaks my heart and sometimes I wish for the ignorance that I once had.