June has been a very busy month here at Embassies Wellington and Apia, which is why I am a bit behind in my blogging.  (Apologies for that.)  I have been to Apia, Auckland, Bluff, Christchurch, Dacre, Edendale, Hamilton, Invercargill, Porirua, and Poutasi, among other places.  And if I am reading my schedule correctly, there seems to be one more flight before the calendar flips to July.

The Hon. Dr. Mapp and me (front row, center) with the latest Fulbright brigade.

The Hon. Dr. Mapp and me (front row, center) with the latest Fulbright brigade.

Fortunately, just about all of June’s activities have been interesting and fun.  One of the highlights was the annual Fulbright Awards ceremony that I attended last week at the Beehive.  My friend the Hon. Dr. Wayne Mapp, Minister of Research Science and Technology, graciously hosted the event.  He and I both addressed the packed hall.

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I’m delighted to announce that one of New Zealand’s most exciting poets, Hinemoana Baker, has been selected to attend the prestigious International Writing Program (IWP) at the University of Iowa this year.

Hinemoana Baker.

Hinemoana Baker.

Hinemoana was a superb choice for the IWP, and we at the Embassy were delighted to champion her in the process.  In addition to writing poetry, she is a published fiction writer and playwright.  She maintains several popular blogs.  And she is a singer and spoken-word performer who has received rave reviews throughout New Zealand and Australia.  I don’t know where she finds all the energy … physical or creative.

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One of the best parts of my job is meeting people who are doing wonderful things in their communities — frequently without pay, thanks, or acknowledgment.  You don’t often read about such folks in the newspaper, but they are making our world a better place.     It is particularly gratifying when we at the Embassy are able to assist these unsung angels with their work.  Thus, it was my great pleasure while in Apia this past week to host a morning tea at which we gave grants to four non-government organizations (NGOs) to support important projects that they are pursuing.

Enjoying Samoan poi on one of the organic family farms assisted by Women in Business.

Enjoying Samoan poi on one of the organic family farms assisted by Women in Business.

Women in Business — Village Campaign to Lose Weight for Longer and Healthier Life.

This grant will fund a healthy lifestyle project driven by an impressive NGO named Women in Business Development Inc., in association with the Peace Corps and the Samoa Red Cross Society.

The initiative builds on the “Samoa Challenge One” project of 2009 which was aimed at the population of urban Apia.  The new project, “Samoa Challenge Two,” will provide training, nutrition information, health information, and exercise coaching to individuals and communities in the rural areas of Samoa, to promote weight loss and healthier living.

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One of my favorite Chinese proverbs is “a picture is worth a thousand words.”  

Seabird smothering in oil, on the beach of East Grand Terre Island.

Seabird smothering in oil, on the beach of East Grand Terre Island.

It does not at all reduce the power of the maxim to acknowledge that it was coined by Frederick R. Barnard, a New York advertising manager looking to attract clients to his agency in 1921, and not by Confucius. 

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