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Front Page » August 27, 2002 » Opinion » The joy of exchanging different cultures
Published 4,355 days ago

The joy of exchanging different cultures


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By KEN LARSON
Sun Advocate Publisher

A few years ago, while living in Oregon, I was involved in a sister city project with New Plymouth, New Zealand. I began corresponding through the internet with a graphic artist in the production department of The Daily News, a 30-thousand circulated, six-day a week newspaper. A lot has happened between those days of the sister cities and my friendship with the young artist.

He was impressed with the Olympics and remembers the torch as it first came into Utah and stood proudly under the Delicate Arch. By the time that happened last winter I had moved to Price and he asked if it was possible to visit our newspaper and community while on vacation to America in August of this year.

That young artist is Michael Collins and he has been our guest at the Sun Advocate and in my home for the past 10 days. We talked a lot about the similarities of our lives and the many differences as well. I was raised in Canada and he was originally from Scotland before his family moved to New Zealand so we have both been under the control of the Queen and part of Commonwealth countries in our lives. With our newspaper backgrounds it has been fun to talk about the changes we have seen over the past 20 years in this industry.

After his arrival we went to Temple Square in Salt Lake City and then the first tour of duty was volunteering at the Helper Arts Festival. I couldn't think of a better way to introduce someone to our community and culture than by having them jump into a community festival like the arts event and getting to work with the volunteers and guests. Saturday was particularly interesting as we served beer in the park for nearly 10 hours.

The differences between the two countries are incredible. New Zealand is a very small country comprised basically of two islands in the south seas, almost three hours flying time from their closest large neighbor, Australia. New Zealand is the largest country close to the International Date Line. Basically a day begins close to New Zealand and then works its way west. New Zealand is 19 hours ahead of us. So as I write this column on Monday morning at 10 a.m. it is already 4 a.m. Tuesday in New Zealand. When Michael leaves America next Tuesday he will literally lose next Wednesday because by the time he touches down in Auckland it will already be Thursday.

There are so many very strange terms used and different ways of doing things in various cultures. The thing I found hard to understand is driving on the "wrong" side of the road, a custom most British countries still practice. I learned that cookies are called biscuits, coolers for camping are called chilly bins, and the trunk of the car is called the boot. We pump gas in our cars and they call it petrol and the little day trips we took throughout the area are called tiki-touring in New Zealand.

Money is definitely different with the largest difference being that the New Zealand dollar is valued at about 45 percent of the American dollar. Their coins begin with the nickel and include the 10 cent coin, 20 cent, 50 cent, $1 and $2, while their bills begin at $5.

I spent three days showing Michael some of the sites in the area and if anybody can cover a lot of ground in three days its me. He spent a day in Nine Mile Canyon and visited all five of the museums in the two counties. We camped out on the San Rafael River, just under the Wedge, toured the Cleveland Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry, watched the sun set through Delicate Arch and spent a day hiking the Canyonlands. We enjoyed the mysteries of Goblin Valley and he was able to photograph the sun rising over Dead Horse Point near Moab.

Another thing I found interesting is Michael's concerns while camping of the reptiles and wild animals. In New Zealand there are no snakes, no poisonous spiders and no cougars or mountain lions.

Life is very short and I always welcome learning about other people and what their day to day life is like. There is no better way to understand another culture than to host a visitor from that country.

I must say that Castle Country certainly sells itself. The activities, the museums, areas of interest and the incredible beauty of south eastern Utah makes it very easy to be an excellent tour guide.

Money is definitely different with the largest difference being that the New Zealand dollar is valued at about 45 percent of the American dollar. Their coins begin with the nickel and include the 10 cent coin, 20 cent, 50 cent, $1 and $2, while their bills begin at $5.

I spent three days showing Michael some of the sites in the area and if anybody can cover a lot of ground in three days it's me. We spent a day in Nine Mile Canyon and visited all five of the museums in the two counties. We camped out on the San Rafael River, just under the Wedge, toured the Cleveland Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry, watched the sun set through Delicate Arch and spent a day hiking the Canyonlands. We enjoyed the mysteries of Goblin Valley and he was able to photograph the sun rising over Dead Horse Point near Moab.

Another thing I found interesting is Michael's concerns while camping of the reptiles and wild animals. In New Zealand there are no snakes, no poisonous spiders and no cougars or mountain lions.

Life is very short and I always welcome learning about other people and what their day to day life is like. There is no better way to understand another culture than to host a visitor from that country.

I must say that Castle Country certainly sells itself. The activities, the museums, areas of interest and the incredible beauty of southeastern Utah makes it very easy to be an excellent tour guide.


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