Happy Christmas from the Old Convent!

It’s hard to believe that it was just a few weeks ago we were having our own holiday celebrations at the Old Convent, complete with a delicious meal shared with friends, a cookie decorating contest, Christmas music…and a nice late summer evening?? Okay, I have to admit, as someone who usually spends Christmas in New York, the summer part is still a bit weird. In contrast to songs about snow and sleigh bells, a classic kiwi Christmas often involves grilling up crayfish, venison or steaks on the barbie, an afternoon spent at the beach, and going to church in a nice summer dress. It’s a whole different world down here…although our California friends might be able to relate.

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In the meantime, though, our lovely fourteen students have returned to their homes and families in the States, not without a few tears. Somewhere in the course of three and a half months what was once a group of strangers transformed into a whanau, a family, and created a beautiful home where people could feel free to be fully themselves. It’s a very encouraging thing to watch and a privilege to be a part of, though such a thing does not come about quickly or easily. But it does make it a bit easier to say goodbye to a group that is bringing back home not only new knowledge and life skills they have learned this semester, but also new friendships, memories, and a confidence in themselves and their passions. It’s what all of us on staff could only hope for, and work hard to foster with each group of students that spends a season with us at the Old Convent. For this reason, we have many reasons to give thanks this holiday, even though it is a bit quieter here without late night laughing circles and human knots.


To all of you have been reunited with your families for a couple weeks now, and hopefully adjusting to the winter weather, we hope you were able to enjoy a classic American Christmas celebration back home; whether that means Christmas sweaters, roaring fires, snow, candy canes in hot coco (or all the time), or searching for hidden Christmas presents. We hope that in the midst of all the joy of being back home with family and friends, and as you begin to share about this past semester, you remember what you’ve learned, what goals you have set, and that,

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,

Nothing is going to get better, it’s not.


Hope you had a very Merry Christmas, and have a Happy New Year!

– Lauren

(Molly, Carlos, Rocky and the chooks say hi!)



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