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A March in March

posted Mar 16, 2016, 12:26 PM by Ezra Lockhart   [ updated Mar 18, 2016, 11:09 PM ]
On the way to pick up my Master testamur in Australia we stopped off in Fiji. We planned a two night mini-vacation in Nadi before heading to New South Wales for The University of Sydney commencement ceremony.

It was quite the experience to be received at the University of Sydney. Usually students rent their gowns and hood. I had mine tailored a few months prior and brought it with me. Moments before the ceremony we found a fitter at the university to help affix the hood. I must admit I failed at all attempts to properly wear the formal article. I was assigned to sit in the front row. There were 5 from my cohort graduating and we were the highest degrees awarded for the Faculty of Health Sciences this year. Two graduands accepted their award in absentia. I ended up walking up to meet the Chancellor second. The Dean in her closing address mentioned me as the further awardee. Finally, I lead the academic procession for the entire graduating class which included undergraduates. This was quite the honor.
Cyclone Winston
Only days prior a cyclone raged through Fiji leaving behind devastation. Many locals lost their homes and were left without clean water to drink. Everyone was informed to boil tap water before drinking if any was accessible. I saw many large industrial plastic water tanks set up throughout Nadi to support civilians and local merchants. Out of respect for those who call Fiji home I did not take any pictures of the devastation. The Fijian government at the point of our arrival had yet to receive aid from their international allies. It was not until the end of our trip to Australia did they send over $15 million in cash aid and various other supplies. During our stay, I was more than happy to support the Fijian economy through selectively choosing Fiji Airlines, locally owned hotel, and local small businesses. We shopped at the local grocers and ate fresh produce. Tourism is a large part of the Fijian economy and mindful choices like these help.

Skydiving in Fiji
This was my first time in Fiji. Shortly after landing and shedding our luggage my wife and I went back into the sky on a small Cessna. We reached an altitude of 10,000 feet and completed a tandem skydive. The first for either of us.

Cessna, my wife and I

Preparing to jump 10,000ft Certificate

What is a Sunburn?
Another first for me: My first ever sunburn. In our excitement we made the mistake of swimming in the ocean for 3 hours straight smack dab in the middle of high noon. My poor wife who is very fair skinned suffered more than I. I was in disbelief. I am Aboriginal Hawaiian and grew up on the island of O'ahu. Never in my life have I had a sunburn. Now I understand what it feels like. I apologize to my brother for teasing him when we were younger. I get it now. I wonder if this is a result of the 24 years I spent in Alaska that has left me pale? Up here, although we get more sunlight throughout the year it is not the full spectrum found elsewhere. We did not let our condition ruin our trip, but we did have to stay indoors to recover.

Sightseeing in AU
While in Australia we took advantage of the trip to do some sightseeing. We stayed in Glebe and walked to many of the surround parks like Victoria Park. We spent most of our time in Darling Harbor. We toured Cockle Bay via a ferry and saw Circular Quay, The Rocks, Manly, Goat and Shark Island to name a few. We visited the Sydney Opera House, the zoo, aquarium, Madame Tussauds - Sydney, and local eateries. We took a day tour to the Blue Mountains and saw Wentworth and Katoomba Falls, the Three Sisters, the small town of Leura, Olympic Park, and a couple of aboriginal sites.

APIASF 100 Reviews
While overseas I still made it a point to continue my volunteer work. I marked nearly 100 essay applications for the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund. I have been doing this for a few years now and the number of applicants keep growing steadily. I was a little disappointed in the quality of the applicant sample I drew this cycle. Many of the essays were well below the 500-word mark and had a text or tweet type feel it them instead of essays. I hope this was just an issue with the subset of the applicants I reviewed. The APIASF continues to feature me on their website. I am grateful and will continue to support their efforts in providing opportunities for Asian and Pacific Islander Americans to attend university. It is my personal thinking that higher education is an integral component to creating leaders of change. Critical thinking, broadened perspectives, and free exchange of ideas without anger and hate are hallmarks of higher educational institutions. Change leaders who learn and use these hallmarks have the tools necessary to create positive change in their communities. I wish those who applied success and hope our next change leaders are born from this.