Half-a-world away, RCHS graduate Ashley Hedrick is having the time and adventure of her life. Hedrick, a student at Earlham College, is with 14 other students studying abroad in New Zealand.
“Going on this program was probably one of the best decisions that I’ve made,” Hedrick said. “Even though Rushville is a great place to live in with its small community, leaving the country and really experiencing how the rest of the world works has really allowed me to grow up and mature.”
The adventure began right away for Hedrick.
“The first really memorable moment for me was landing at the Wellington Airport and realizing that I have finally made it out of the polar vortez and I am starting the first real adventure of my life,” Hedrick said.
Fans of Lord of the Rings would recognize Tongariro National Park. Hedrick and the group took a 3-day hike through the park, which is the location where the Lord of the Rings films used to shoot the scenes from Mount Doom.
“The movie did not do the location justice. Every step you took and any direction you glanced towards there was just another breathtaking view, whether it was tiny carnivorous plants growing in the swamp lands or clouds wrapping themselves around the mountains,” Hedrick said.
Little did Hedrick know that she would also find the “end of the rainbow” on her trip.
“On the second day of the hike, a friend of mine Zoe Wolfe from Kokomo, and I walked over to a waterfall that wasn’t too far away from the hut where we were staying,” Hedrick said. “While we were there, the clouds were moving in around Mt. Ngauruhoe and dousing us in fog, but with the sun still shining. Through the mist, a rainbow appeared right in front of us. It was so close we couldn’t see why we shouldn’t follow it and stand at the base of a rainbow. I mean, how many times does that opportunity come about? So we ran about a quarter of a mile into the valley and stood at its base.”