Sunday, February 20, 2011

Crazy week of overcommitment

These past few days have been amongst the most intense and crazy times at my work that I have experienced. I had so much going on that had deadlines to meet that I was working totally toward meeting these deadlines - sacrificing sleep, blogging, eating, socialising and relaxation. Not quite sure how it all happened to fall in the same week, or why I thought that I could manage attending and presenting at a 3 day conference (most of it held outside school time), running a personal project planning day with student guides and scaffolding activities to develop, go on a two day camp in the middle, have a bus load of people visit our library, with an Eric Clapton concert thrown in for good measure - all to fall within in 6 days. I am writing this post in bed, with still more commitments to plan for - a talk in church this afternoon and an hour presentation for the personal project tomorrow to plan, but the heat is off. I can relax a bit.

On Monday morning I was quite stressed in looking toward what the week was looking like, however I went on a 2 day camp with our year 10's to a little village in HK called Tai O. It is quite a remote village, renowned for being constructed on the river bank with stilt houses - see the photos below. In this village live 2,000 people, with just over 50% being over 70 years of age, with about 80% of the population illiterate, the youngest being aboutmid 30's. Yes, illiterate in the 21st century, in Hong Kong with one of the highest literacy rates in the world. Most of these people grew up in a time when the British government did not fund schooling for local people and, the role of the children was to help the family with the fishing, as a result, they did not get much schooling. Their parents too were illiterate and saw no requirement for their children to learn these skills.

Going to the village is like stepping back in time, we did have remote access to the internet, however, it felt like we were intruding by using it. These people lead a simple life with many things being done in the old way. Many of the younger generation have left the village to find a life in the city, the primary school has 70 students, the high school has 300 students, but only 40 of these come from the village itself. They have left behind an aging population. The people of Tai O rarely leave the village, maybe once or twice a year to visit family or to see medical specialists.

The pace was slower, the shops closed at 5pm, restaurants 7:30pm, (for anyone who has visited HK the city closes about 1am - some parts 6am). The streets were deadly quiet at 8pm. No vehicular traffic can move through the village - only boats, bikes and pedestrians. The homes are close together and built of wood and sheet metal, as you walk past you can hear quiet conversations being carried on within. Our students needed to be considerate, quiet and asleep by 10pm, otherwise the police would be called. The people in the village looked after each other, their families had known each other for generations. Wherever we were we heard greetings and neighborly chats going on.

During the 2 days we were exposed to traditional crafts the older folk use to earn a living - salted egg making, fishing net weaving, shrimp fishing and hand line fishing. The students were aghast that a man will work for 5 hours to make a fishing net, and then sell it for $10HKD - about $1.30US. They at the age of 14 understand that time is money, and $10 for 5 hours work is something foreign to them when they have between 10-100 times that in their wallet on a normal day. Their lunch costs 3 times that.

Even though taking 2 days out of a horrendous schedule in the week, going on the trip helped me to relax totally, get my life into perspective and stop stressing about the small stuff. Lesson learned - simplify my life and stop over committing.

By the way, the 21CLHK conference was excellent too, Stephen Heppell and David Warlick were on fire and helped to re-ignite us. See their keynotes here. Warning - there is 4 hours of footage and you will want to watch it all.

From one of the tweets by Jplaman : Conferences are (still) necessary. Recharge batteries, make f2f connections that sustain us when we go back home.

This is the panel I was on with Stephen Heppell & Joe Butler (ICT Teacher in HK) on "How can school libraries embrace the new technologies in schools to support students and staff -mobile technologies such as ebooks, social media, web 2.0 etc? What are the challenges and potential successes?" It of course went off topic with a lot of fun comments and banter between us. Stephen said a couple of great things about libraries
"Librarians Under promise and over deliver... librarians lead the charge"
"'The Library is the heart of the school...' "
"the library is a spiritual place within the school with a bit of a crazy person running it..."
Go here for more stuff on his work with libraries Heppell on Libraries

A bit of a mixed post this week - but the week was a bit mixed!

Photos taken by Dianne McKenzie, February 2011 on a Panasonic Lumix Gf2 - the coolest camera around at the moment!


Carmel said...

Well done, yet again. Your energy and enthusiasm inspires many. Hope you are having a quiet Sunday.

jennylu said...

It was a busy week Di. I enjoyed following your tweets from the HK conference over the weekend, and then viewing your presentation on Slideshare. Well done.

Ms. Yingling said...

Phew! Thanks for making my week sound calm. Wishing you the energy to get through!

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