Happy Queen’s Birthday to all of my Kiwis out there! To everyone else: happy Monday/Sunday. Here’s a quick rundown on what I’ve been up to in May.
The most exciting development in my life this month was that I got admitted to the Bar as a barrister and solicitor. For anyone who might be interested, the process of becoming a lawyer in New Zealand is quite different to other countries. First you have to get a Law degree (which you can do at undergraduate level); then you must complete a 13-week Legal Professional Studies course. After that there’s a bunch of paperwork followed by an admission ceremony where an existing lawyer must ‘move’ your application. There is no postgraduate study or Bar exam in New Zealand – just a lot of other hoops to jump through along the way.
I must admit (excuse the pun) that I was quite anxious for the ceremony. There was a bunch of court procedure to remember and I think all of the candidates were worried about offending tradition if we messed up. Fortunately, everything went smoothly. My moving counsel, Julian, did an awesome job and made my day by surprising me with flowers from my friends. After the ceremony, I could relax and had a fun evening celebrating at the Viaduct.
My main focus outside my Bar admission has been preparing for my move to New York in June. I’m pleased to report that I’ve found a place to live for the summer, which is a huge relief. I’ve also been hustling like crazy for a job. I’ve had either a phone call, meeting or email exchange practically every day and received a few offers, but haven’t accepted one yet. Everything is moving so fast that it honestly feels like I’m already there. I’ve got a good gut feeling that the right job is coming soon. Stay tuned on this front – you guys will be the first to know once I’ve got it locked in!
I’ve also been trying to make the most of the time I have left in New Zealand. It’s important to me that I give back to my community whenever I’m here and one of the ways I like to do that is through guest speaking. This month I went along to my local Rotary club and shared my journey to the UN. It was challenging to write the speech because about 75% of the club members are straight white men over the age of 70 - pretty different to me! But I saw it as a chance to maximise impact and said yes in the hopes that I could offer a fresh perspective.
In my speech, I talked about the negative stereotypes associated with millennials and encouraged the audience to see potential in everybody. As some of you know, I was sick as a teenager with chronic fatigue syndrome. I used my experience as an example to show that there is more to my generation than meets the eye. It was the first time I’ve ever really spoken publicly about my story. There was a beautiful moment where I looked up partway through to see the room full of grown men crying and that is something I will never forget.
Finally, I’ve been out and about to a couple of interesting events this month. The highlight was a presentation by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. The event was held at the AUT South campus in Manukau and the best part was all of the questions asked by kids from the local high schools. I was blown away by their thoughtfulness and depth. It was a real testament to strength in diversity. It made me stop and think how important it was that the event was made accessible to them. So many high-profile gatherings in the CBD are missing out on the powerful insights those kids have to offer.
I’m looking forward to seeing how things come together in June. While my energy is invested predominantly in the move itself, there are a few cool activities I’ve got planned in New Zealand. These include volunteering at Unfiltered Live and attending the World Class New Zealand Awards. I will endeavour to put another post up before I leave and save all the New York stuff for July. In the meantime, I hope you all have a fabulous month!