Tonight was our Arcadia Farewell dinner which was filled with lots of laughs and tears. We all met at Unilodge at 6:30pm and walked over to Ima Bistro on Fort Street. Ima is a very cute and delicious Mediterranean restaurant and our table for 14 was set up in the back. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Kate and Meghan and it was wonderful to see Kate and Jane here, together, for the first time since Orientation. This will be the last time I will see Jane in New Zealand and it was a hard night for goodbyes. I met Jane back in September at Babson and when I realized how awesome she was I knew I had to travel through Arcadia to New Zealand.
Kate has been our protective guardian for the past couple of months and always checked up on us throughout the semester to make sure we were eating our greens, making our beds, studying and getting some sun. The occasional morning coffee that she would treat us too at Slurp was always the highlight of my week. After enjoying our antipasto, Jane presented the awards for the NZ Arcadia Photo Competition. I submitted my photos on a whim, but surprisingly enough I won the best “People Photo” for a picture I took of a performer at the Auckland Lantern Festival back in February.
After the presentation of the awards we had our second course. More delicious food! When we were done Kate made a little speech and handed out our presents: an Arcadia NZ T-shirt and a lovely postcard saying
Te pae tata, te pae taqhiti kia puta koe ki te whaiao ki te ao marama.
(Pursue horizons of understanding so you may emerge into the world of light)
When Kate was done, Dan surprised us all with a speech he made and this is when the waterworks show began. He spoke of all of the memories we had as a group, he mentioned all of the places we had traveled, and then he talked about each person individually. It was a lovely speech and there was not a dry eye in the house. He concluded by talking about our special Misty Whitney Bond and with a poem that he wrote for the trip:
The winding roads and all the bends
While spending times with all your friends
The pictures you take the memories you make
They’re worth it all in the end
We ended the night with one last group picture and then with teary eyes we hugged Kate and Jane goodbye. This has been the experience of a lifetime and even though we have finals coming up, we still have the All Blacks Game this weekend and the house we rented on Waiheke Island next week to look forward too. Like Dan said, even at the end of this experience it will not be a goodbye but an Until We Meet Again.