Opera singer, politician, judge and now teacher

Thursday February 21, 2019 Written by Published in Education
Apii Takitumu student Taloka George with Global Volunteer Gail Kulick. 19022005 Apii Takitumu student Taloka George with Global Volunteer Gail Kulick. 19022005

Global Volunteer Gail Kulick, from Minnesota USA, had never heard of the Cook Islands, “it is a world away”, until she volunteered to help here arriving on February 3 “for a 3-week vacation”.



Based at Takitumu Primary School, Kulick is assisting students with their reading skills; she marvelled at the kids barefoot at school, is amazed the kids knew of the Baby Shark Song and using the drum as a bell.

Overall her experience here on the island ‘has been absolutely wonderful, a little bit life-changing’.

“I get to know real people, be with kids, share a meal with the teachers, talk and laugh – it’s rich and relevant being here. I don’t want to waste life being on a beach reading all day.”

Kulick earned a degree in classical vocal performance (Opera) when she had an epiphany: “I realised I needed to further my education/skills and get a marketable job,” so she took up law studies and is now a District Court judge in Minnesota's 7th District.

Kulick was formerly a politician, a member of the House of Representatives, served in the state legislator (our equivalent to Parliament) and previously had her own legal practice.

Most cases Kulick preside over are: adult criminal, assault, drug offences, child protection, juvenile delinquency, family law, custody; the biggest issue are drugs - it is a huge problem, she says.

The other trouble is “kids are alienated from each other because they interact virtually, many of them are gaming from when they were just little, and we have more obese kids in the US because of this, I worry for them.

“It will be very difficult for them to undo what’s going on now, why we let profits for us trump their future.”

In 2017 Kulick volunteered in Cuba and took her then 17-year-old son with her, so he could see for himself what life is like for other people; they worked in an elderly government owned nursing home feeding and helping patients.

In her spare time, Kulick exercises with yoga, attends art/music shows and is a member of a book club, “we have great conversations, now and then we discuss a book,” she laughs.

Venturing out and about, she loves the weather, the vegetation, snorkelling in water so clear, the food, fresh fish, avocados, dancing … and purchased a ukulele.

Attending the Avarua CICC church service she was blown away, seeing people dressed all in white, and “they sang incredibly, it was transcending, the sound was so wonderful, acapella in different tones – it was such a great cultural experience.”

Kulick leaves the island on Friday and would like to thank their amazing host James Puati and his daughter Samantha.

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