Alumni Spotlight: Hunter Kerlek

Humanities is an ever-evolving fluid culture that involves calls in some subject and objective traits. The concept of Hunter is what you get when you throw together curiosity, a free spirit (these two can lead to interesting times), and inner debates between spirituality, the will to live, and a path of life.

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Why did you choose this program?

I simply needed to get out. I had so many existential questions that weren't being answered in Arizona. After four suicide attempts, I realized I needed to change something, so a change in perspective through a change in my felt presence of immediate experience (or the "now") was called for, to literally save my life. Luckily I did, because now, I look forward to the future, instead of fearing it. I can't wait to meet my future self :)

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

The Work and Travel New Zealand team were, honestly, honest people that suggested so much in an honest manner. They told me to spend a few days in Auckland but then get out, that there is so much more out there. And that was absolutely correct, I realized more and more on my journey. They helped me set up transportation (throughout New Zealand (Stray!!) as well as to Waiheke Island twice, and back from WWOOFing in the middle of nowhere). They were there when I needed them, but this was something I needed to do for myself, to grow, and they allowed that.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

When you get into Auckland, spend a week there, do what you will (Mt Eden, Waiheke Island, etc.) but then GET OUT. There's so much more New Zealand has to offer. I highly recommend Stray's hop-on hop-off bus, it was an absolute blast and I made so many friends. It hit a lot of the highlights around NZ (although there was some partying, if you're looking for more partying, do Kiwi Experience). I highly recommend WWOOFing, and at some point get some newly acquired friends and rent a car. Hike!

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Every week was different, which is the beauty of it. One week you're working for accommodation on a mega-farm in the countryside, experiencing a new religion, the next you're at a three day festival with people from around the world that you met that day or in the previous weeks. I've spent one day in a city, I've spent 5 weeks. Go with the flow, if you like a city, stay for a little bit! If you feel like it's time to go, you have that power!

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

Going into the program I was suicidal, coming out I was not. There were a few things that changed that, but the biggest one was when I WWOOFed with a hippie in the middle of nowhere up a mountain in a tree house he built, living off the land. I was between spiritualities and he had a similar mindset as me and he really helped me in that aspect. I believe spirituality is subjective (and that might be why some people don't have any!), but it was interesting getting new perspectives.

What are you wanting out of this experience?

Some people want to party and take lots of photos, see Mt Doom and whatnot. Good for them. But there is so much more to traveling than that. You can experience so many opportunities that the world has to offer and grow in so many aspects. I recommend contemplating and adding to your bucket list for at least six months beforehand, and try crossing some off while you're there! Think of some interesting ones! Island hop while kayaking, ride an ostrich for a bottle of wine (yes I did witness that!), meet a hippie, befriend a street performer, bike a peninsula, do yoga in an odd place, give in to your intuition if you feel it is safe to do so :)

Are there anything more you'd like to share about your experience?

Going to New Zealand was the best decision I ever made, honestly. I can't imagine myself without it. It saved my life, I saved my life, through it, and the memories fill me with joy. Thanks for providing the opportunity for me to experience your slice of heaven. Looking forward to going back and becoming self-sustainable there!