This is Francios Lesage at his leaving party (C) Cranston
This is Francios Lesage at his leaving party (C) Cranston
Sad news, I am leaving New Zealand in two weeks from now… but, before I go, I felt like sharing my feelings about my time here and describing New Zealand and Greenpeace through French eyes. Then I asked myself: how do I do this? To highlight my true feelings, I reckon the best way is to give you special access to my personal diary. Needless to say, what you are about to read must remain between you and me.

23th June 2008, 10pm, in my youth hostel dormitory.

Dear Diary,

Tomorrow is my first day as an intern at Greenpeace NZ. Stressed? Well, I wasn't until my mother asked me if I knew what to wear… Should I wear a shirt? What about my formal shoes? Anyway, another thought just hit me: what will these people think about France? I may be the first French intern since the one who spied to get information and bomb the Rainbow Warrior…

24th June, 10am, Greenpeace office

Everyone seems great here! I just met Suzette, my new boss and a few other people. They are friendly and don't hesitate to ask questions, (in other words they are curious) I love it! But, gosh, what is this accent? They certainly don't speak the English I learnt! Everyone keeps calling me "Brew"… what the hell does that mean?

4th July, 12.30pm, Elm Park School, Pakuranga

Ok, when I told Suzette that I was prepared to help in any way I could, I didn't think that would mean wearing a Polar Bear costume in front of 300 kids… But anyway, here I am, in the toilets of Elm Park School, trying to get into a white fluffy suit and into the character of a 500 kg hairy animal. Then I knock at the school auditorium door. My entry is tremendous. Just imagine 300 children staring at you, some are yelling and you know that every single one of them wants one thing: to touch your fur! That's a very particular feeling.

Anyway, explaining to those kids what Greenpeace stands for and what is happening to our planet is an amazing thing. It makes them aware of what they will have to face in the future. It also makes Greenpeace staff very happy to have an attentive and concentrated audience. You just know that what you are doing is useful and you can actually see the result of your action on these children's faces.

7th August, 11am, Greenpeace office

As a communication intern, I have the opportunity to write blogs on the Greenpeace website. And today, I just finished my third article. Of course, it needs to be corrected by an English speaker. So, I am asking Kathy - our loud communication officer - to correct my paper for the first time. And, to improve my English, I decided to stand next to her and listen to her comments. So, there I was, listening patiently to Kathy making fun of my mistakes and teaching me English grammar… Since I had a lot of fun - and since I am forgiving - she has corrected all my blogs since.

Working in this role has reminded me of why I want to work in communications. The communication sector - and I can't figure out why - always gathers so many fun, genuine and outgoing people.

20th August, 8pm, Rialto Cinema, Newmarket

Greenpeace NZ invited its supporters to watch the premiere of Earth, a documentary showing the richness of life on our planet. Bunny - Greenpeace NZ Director - gave a little speech and then the lights went down. I am in the dark surrounded by people who care about the environment. And then I have another of those strange but pleasant feelings. I realise that without these people, nothing would be possible. Of course the movie was great and it confirmed that fighting for this planet is a good thing to be doing. And it could just convince skeptical people that global warming is happening.

10th September, 2pm, Greenpeace office

Dear Diary,

This is me, writing about me, writing in my diary. I am in front of my desk, trying to think about my best moments here. I could have talked about other stuff that happened to me but I can't tell everything. What I can write though, is that I am not looking forward to going back to France (except for my family and my friends of course!). Not because I don't miss my business school, neither that I really don't want to have a third winter… but because I will miss New Zealand so much.

Life in New Zealand looks like European life in many ways but few little differences make a big difference. New Zealanders know how to welcome foreigners; they introduce you to their friends and are very open-minded. If what I am saying seems naïve, please try to ask for information in Paris and compare! You will understand quickly… plus, I have to say that being French is really an advantage here. You cannot imagine how many people have asked about my country. I also have to say that the French accent is one of the best icebreakers ever!

Regarding my time at Greenpeace NZ, I wonder if every Greenpeace office is like this one because in here, you feel like you belong to the family. The working atmosphere is unbelievable: there is solidarity; no stress and you know that everything you do is for the greater good: what an amazing sensation to work on this side. Beside, the Greenpeace office in NZ is teeming with clever and passionate people from all over the world, which makes your experience even better.

Now, I am going to let Lamartine - a French romantic poet - conclude for me: "There is no man more complete than the one who traveled a lot, who changed 20 times his mind and life style." I hope he is right and even if it is hard to know if I have changed yet, I can feel that my trip will have an impact on me as soon as my feet touch French soil.

I thank everyone I met in Greenpeace from the bottom of my heart (I heard that in a movie once).

I'll see you when I see you

Au revoir, François