Over the next few weeks, Vanderbilt soccer will be following rising junior Gabrielle Rademaker. The Tampa, Fla. natives will be journaling her experiences this summer as she explores New Zealand.
What is the most exciting thing you have done/seen so far?
The most memorable and incredible experience I've had was when we brought clean water to an indigenous tribe in New Zealand. The reason we were there was to bring clean drinking water to them and when we showed them the filters and how to use them they were all so happy and amazed by the clean non bacteria filled water they are used to seeing and it was just so humbling and made me realize how much I take for granted. We stayed with the Waitaha a Maori tribe and it was truly incredible and life changing. We stayed for five days and with no service on the north island of New Zealand in an area called Bay of Islands... We were surrounded by water and mountains and beautiful wild life. The elder of the Waitaha topo-horo, is a close friend of the Dali llama. When we first got there we were welcomed with their traditional ceremonies, could never wear shoes inside, and we slept in a room where their ancestors stay. They hung up pictures around the room to represent every ancestor that died and gives power to them. The Waitaha took us in like family and told us they had no rules except to do no harm to anyone and just love which was shocking and beautiful
What is challenging about the service trip?
All the traveling was really challenging. We went to three different countries trying to get the water filters through customs and figuring out how to pack so many without going over the limit was a lot more difficult than I thought. Another very challenging part was how shy the children of Vanuatu were. We went to schools to bring filters and teach them how to use them and it was hard to get them to come up and try it themselves, they kept putting their hands over their face. One girl in particular didn’t want to be in the front of the class, but I went over and put my hand on her back and told her I'll do it with you. Seeing we were supportive, she took over right away and knew how to assemble the whole filter herself. Watching their faces when the clear clean water came out was incredible and so heart fulfilling. I made friends with some of the girls and they gave me one of their bibles and it was the greatest gift I received while I was here!
How do you spend your down time?
The down time we got was the first two days we were in Queenstown, and we did the gondola hike and luge. Me being the competitive person I am, I raced everyone and obviously was kicking butt and winning, but on the last course I got super cocky and wiped out (I'm fine didn't injure anything haha) but everyone was laughing and they got some of it on camera!
Who is the boss/leader of the group?
My boss/leaders are Robert and Spryte. They have been on this humanitarian mission for three years now and have been to Ecuador, Liberia, and now the final trip New Zealand. Robert is the camera guy and producer I guess you can say, but he does much more and he is making a documentary of all the work that has been done. Spryte came up with the idea of water barriers, bringing clean drinking water to people who are in need, and has set up this whole trip. She has also asked me to be one her partners in her next missions by being a leader myself and getting more people my age to get involved to change people's lives through water. I can't wait and can't wait to get back home and tell more people about it and get them involved!