I am currently living in Mangere Bridge while our renovations are happening. Mangere Bridge is a lovely suburb. I had no idea that such a suburb existed in Auckland. I say this because it is unique in that it is not a suburb that you pass through to get to somewhere else; you go to Mangere Bridge for a reason.
In our street, there are always children riding up and down on their bikes and scooters. The neighbourhood children play on each other’s front lawns, they gather in the nearby cul de sac and make up all sorts of games. The day of the teachers’ strike, I was driving to the city and on the way through the suburb there were boys on bikes with back packs on furiously peddling towards Ambury Farm. There were groups of children playing everywhere.
In the village there are always people sitting outside the many cafes; lots of family groups. There is a little supermarket which doesn’t sell wine, but at the liquor store next door there is always a Salvation Army man sitting outside with his donation bucket. Mangere Bridge has its own charm, it reminds me of a slightly old fashioned seaside town, which I suppose it actually is given it sits on the Manukau Harbour (the walkway around the esplanade is just lovely). There are family groups everywhere.
So why am I telling you this? The way of living in Mangere Bridge, the families, the characters, the people are different to the way of living in Grey Lynn, the families, the characters, the people that surround me every day. Living there has caused me to reflect that we all live in a bubble. Inside the bubble is our world. It is the world of going to the same supermarket in our suburb, of having coffee at the same cafes in our suburb, shopping in our suburb. When we venture out it is inevitably to a destination that is very similar to the world inside our bubble. How often do we venture outside of our bubble to experience something different? We are so secure in our bubble and we think that the world in our bubble must be the same for everyone. But it isn’t. It takes moving to a different place to understand how life is incredibly different for people who don’t live very far away from our bubble. Not better, not worse, just different.
So it is for our children. They live in the same bubble as us. Our school is part of their world. They think that every child in New Zealand lives in the same bubble as they do, have the same experiences, the same family life, the same type of school. Their world view inside their bubble is very narrow. How do we show our children that things are very different for children around New Zealand? Children who live on a farm, children whose parents don’t have a lot of money, children who don’t have the latest clothes or shoes, children who ride bikes around their neighbourhood, children who can gather together outside and play.
We have taken the time to immerse ourselves in the suburb of Mangere Bridge, enjoying everything for what it is, not comparing it to how we live in Grey Lynn. We have experienced pleasure in seeing how happy the families are, how the children play together, how different the ways of doing things are. How much could our children learn if they had the opportunity to visit and participate in new ways of living? How we do that is not easy. Just driving through a suburb or place and looking out the window of a car won’t do it. Perhaps an afternoon spent exploring places like Mangere Bridge would expand our children’s world view. If we are preparing our children to be global citizens, then small ways of expanding their bubbles are the steps towards them accepting that other’s world views are not better, not worse, just different.
We look forward sharing tomorrow morning with grandparents and significant older friends. Sorry, but due to hall space restrictions can you please note that only grandparents / older friends should attend the concert.