Today was the 4th of July, cause for vacations and celebration in the United States, but just another day across the rest of the world. This year’s Sparks New Zealand Development Group has eight Americans in it and for them, while far from the cookouts back at home, the Fourth of July still took on a special feel (and no, not the special feel caused by the three training sessions on the day). The day’s erg session had a special All-American playlist featuring songs as varied as Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A” to Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the U.S.A.” That was followed by a feast at Unicol, which is headed by an American and as a result has taken on a tradition of celebrating the Fourth with classic American fare. The rowers were greeted by tables piled with BBQ ribs and chicken, chili cheese dogs, and potato and pasta salad. To top it all off dessert was as American as it gets: apple pie.
Coming thousands of miles from home to subject yourself to a highly rigorous training program is a bold choice, and at times its a choice that seems like it might have been made in error. Constantly being outside of your comfort zone is difficult. But days like this, where one is given a reprieve from the distance from all that is familiar, can be rejuvenating and many of the group were put back on track and in a brighter mood as a result of their generous Kiwi hosts making cultural connections.