“All Around the Wizarding World” is a familiar enough phrase to those of us who have been a part of HNZ for any period of time. It’s been on our banner for forever – we have always roleplayed well beyond the bounds of New Zealand and had characters coming from all kinds of walks of life.
Far more interesting to me, however, is just how far reaching the site has been in the real world. We’re not a bunch of Kiwis. It often surprises people that it was an American who started HNZ, or that I am a Canadian who has never set foot in Aotearoa. But North American people are mundane to me: there’s no excitement in knowing I’m on a website with Canadians and Americans. The fact that we have actual Kiwis, though, that excites me. Despite having a very specific geographic niche to the site, its reach has never been limited.
In fact, HNZ has been accessed (and frequented) by people all over the world. In far flung countries and exotic lands I could only imagine, that the Internet brings far closer to me, and that HNZ has enabled me to get to share a passion with the natives of. In fact, in the past three years on the site we’ve reached people in all these places:
While we certainly have a larger presence in certain places, the fact that we’ve been seen and shared in so many different places amazes me.
“Now Nick,” I can hear you starting to say – “just because HNZ has been visited in all those places over three years doesn’t mean very much – it could just have been one-off random flukes!”
And I say to you: fair enough – but look at this map from just the last three months:
Definitely fewer places, but still mightily impressive in my books.
It’s not just that people from Australia and Tanzania, India and France, Texas and the UK, have all visited HNZ that staggers me; it’s that HNZ has impacted lives, been shared, chattered about in an excited tone. People have met because of this site! We have frequently joked of a giant HNZ meet up or convention, but smaller versions of this happen frequently! People in the same country find ways to meet, peoples in the same area but might require crossing an international border have had annual get togethers, and when travelling there’s often a quick HNZ connection to be made if you want it. Friendships that would never have existed do now because of HNZ.
Even more powerfully, classrooms in the Philippines and in the Netherlands have been abuzz with chat about this character or that all while, seemingly a world away, a school teacher in Canada desperately hopes his students never find the site he has come to enjoy so much, but uses a similar concept as a teaching tool so they, too, can enjoy a piece of what he has so come to appreciate.
In places I’ll probably never have the privilege to visit, friends share the site with each other and the community we’ve all come to know and love, that has become a piece of who we are and that we’ve left a bit of ourselves with, travels the globe, a person at a time, a web search and a click at a time, little by little, making itself known and loved. In fact, we were even submitted to TotalGirl Magazine, which I’ve always thought was the coolest.
I really am frequently amazed at the impact HNZ has had on people, and how powerful a tool it has been in so many lives. People who have struggled with depression and belonging find a safe space on HNZ where they’re warmly welcomed and they most certainly belong. People for whom English is not their native language, HNZ has been a kind and patient teacher, giving them a leg up above classmates and helping them in their goal of bi- (or sometimes tri- or even quadri-) lingualism. Even people for whom English may have been the only language they have ever known credit HNZ for the improvements they have seen in their own writing, giving them a safe space to practise, have feedback, enjoy their art.
HNZ is art. Art that has been collaboratively accomplished by hundreds of people in scores of countries around the world, with a diversity of lived experience that boggles my mind. Art that is still being made, lovingly, passionately, sometimes painstakingly, a post at a time, creating something beautiful that none of us has known before, and that would not at all be the thing it is, if it weren’t for the incredible breadth and mixture of people taking part. If it weren’t for the Kiwis and Aussies who called us to account for the seasons being distinctly Northern-Hemisphere and not at all representative of the reality, if it weren’t for Europeans who speak a wealth of languages from which they can draw and enrich their characters, if it weren’t for schoolchildren in all kinds of countries in Africa and Asia for whom the site has perhaps held the most excitement, drawing them into a whole new world, and encouraging them forward even as they deal with the realities of their education and life beyond.
The beauty of the Internet has provided this safe space and opportunity, this welcoming and passionate community, to people from all kinds of walks of life all over the world, has allowed us all to make wonderful art together, and I love it for that.
HNZ & All Around the Wizarding World only exists because our people are from All Around the [Real] World. And it’s a magical thing.
I hope you find it as magical as I do.