The Eisenhower Fellowship exchange programme has been a tremendous privilege.
Now my time in the USA is drawing to a close. During my time in USA, I’ve met with a range of political, social and economic experts. And I’ve got to know a group of astonishingly talented people.
I’ve also met with internationally recognised figures such as Senator Elizabeth Warren and New York Times Journalist Tom Friedman, former New Zealander Politicians now holding international responsibilities like Helen Clark, Mike Moore and Jim McLay, and influential Kiwis who live abroad but retain a passionate interest in supporting the country that gave them opportunity, like Derek Handley, and Hon Peter S. Watson. Dozens of others with and without New Zealand connections have given of their time and expertise.
With this privilege comes responsibility.
Having travelled largely on my own, the programme now requires that the 21 exchange Fellows come together as a group – from diverse nations – to devise our contribution to making a more just, peaceful and prosperous world.
Over the past six weeks, I’ve had time to think. I’ve focused on inequality, social justice, education and values.
I understand better that the strength of New Zealand’s contribution to the world comes through its reputation as an independent nation that values fairness. The fairer New Zealand society becomes, the better for us. But also, the better for the world. The hermeneutic of David Hackett Fischer in particular has resonated during my trip.
When I return to New Zealand, I will bring some very practical policy ideas, but I think the most important thing will be a renewed sense of the importance of fairness to New Zealand’s future. Our economic and social future depend upon ensuring every Kiwi has the opportunity to succeed.