There are always two thoughts that I have whenever I travel to somewhere new. The first is how people can live such different day-to-day lives from each other, and the second is how incredible mankind is. I spent the afternoon today walking around the Musée du Louvre and just the physical presence of the Palace is enough to strike a deep and profound feeling of awe.

To think that people can great such magnificent things will never cease to amaze me.

I’ve been in Paris for a week now and am in the midst of a mediation competition hosted by the International Chamber of Commerce. There are 66 teams from universities around the world and what has been striking about the competition is the cultural stereotypes. Living in such a diverse and multicultural city like Auckland means that a person’s culture is just part of the everyday blend of the community; here however, what you look like and how you act, whether attributable to culture or not, sticks out like a sore thumb. When you bring together hundreds of people that are so different to each other – yet so similar – it’s tempting and easy to just stick with what and who you know.

There is one more week left before I’m back home in Auckland (5 days in Paris and 2 uncomfortable days of flying). The team has wrapped up our 4 preliminary rounds of the competition and we’ll see whether we break into the next round in a few hours. The competition has certainly been an interesting process, and a great learning experience. Although mediation is distinct from and different to negotiation, the skills are very complementary and being able to negotiate effectively is always a good trick to have up the sleeve.

I’ve been trying hard to find time to reflect on the trip so far, but time has been few and far between. I think the preference right now is to head out for some nice French wine, rather than slave away at my emails behind my laptop screen.


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