Tuesday, 19 June 2012


When I returned from China in 2010, I set out to study.  I had learned of a Master of Arts (Writing) at Swinburne University of Technology in Victoria, and duly applied and was accepted.  Since September 2010 it has been the focus of my life.  Most of my assignments were submitted on time, except one, because in the midst of the semester my father passed away, and I found it difficult to focus on my study.  I eventually completed the work several weeks ago and waited with fear and trepidation to see if I had made it over the line.

Fortunately I did.  So last Monday night I received a message, that I could indeed apply for graduation in September.  Yippee.

Now I can focus on my writing! And my other plans.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Literacy and Numeracy

Is it an indication of our poor schooling these days?  Or so many Australians whose first language is not English?  Either way, there are so many errors in publications, signs etc, that there surely should be more work for those who are trained to assist with the English language.

Reading a property sales brochure today I came across this one.


The real estate agency, one would hope, had better spellers for their official documents.

What do you think?  Do you often spot errors in newspapers or websites?

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Esk and Fernvale

I've been 'itching' to take my car for a longer drive. My driving so far has been around the city and suburbs, and I felt like a long drive, so this morning I set off for Esk.  Of course I have been through this part of the Lockyer Valley, but it was a long time ago.

I set off just before 9 am, heading down the Motorway and across to the Ipswich Motorway.   There was a good deal of traffic - plenty of trucks and I reminded myself that I had not been on a 'country' road for a long time.

The weather was almost perfect for such a journey - cool, and quite windy around the city, but out where I went, it was not as windy.  My destination was Esk.  I do like that name.  I'd forgotten that from the Warrego Highway one has to pass through Fernvale.  It was here I made my first stop.

I did buy a meat pie at the famed Fernvale Bakery and did plan to go back and take a photo, but passed by on my return trip forgetting my promise.  The Bakery has won over 100 Awards for their pies, and the place is just wonderful.  Indoors it is warm and welcoming, and they have a good outdoor eating area too, and public toilets.

However, I do plan another trip soon - they have good markets on a Sunday, so I will make the journey in the next month or so, to see the markets.

I went for a short drive and found this house.  I had a quiet giggle to myself.  See the downpipe into the water tank?  See the old airconditioner in the window of the old house/  I love seeing the old country places and the corrugated iron 'features'!

Lovely old wooden church in Fernvale

Main street of Fernvale


Tuesday, 5 June 2012

I remember.....

It was on June 4th, in 1989, that something awful happened in Tiananmen Square in Beijing.  I won't dwell on it here.  I remember being in Tiananmen Square in 2010 and a cold chill running through my body as I recalled the images in the press of that awful day.  Let it not be forgotten.

Monday, 4 June 2012

China or Bust

A friend of mine has published her story about teaching in China, calling it "China or Bust."  Christine writes under the name of Lana Kerr.  The book is available on Amazon.

She and I had quite different experiences.  She went with her husband, which is clearly of benefit when taking on living in a strange country where the language is impossible to understand or read when you first arrive.

I went alone, but fortunately my contract was with a university that had a large number of foreign teachers, and some 10 or so from Australia, if my memory serves me right.  At least there were plenty who spoke English, and some had been there for a while.

Christine/Lana also did not appear to live on campus, but had the challenge of living in housing surrounded by other Chinese, and without the support that I had.

She tells the story of going to China, and offers advice and suggestions for people looking at going there.

I am also currently reading Peter Hessler's book "River Town" which details a completely different story of an English Teacher in China.  He went to a city called Fuling, in the Yangtze River Valley, a city on the banks of the river, but so steep that going up and down stairs to shops was the order of the day.  There were no bicycles as it was too steep!!!

Both books are available on Amazon.com.

Lana's book can be found here.

Peter's book can be found here.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Friends visiting

In 2010 I had the honour of hosting two students from the university at which I taught.  They came to Australia on their own and with the support of International TESOL College, and while they stayed with host families, I had them during the day from Monday to Friday.

It was fun and tiring.  There were so many adventures, and one which rather shocked me.  When teaching in China, we are given instructions not to discuss politics, and religion with the students.  Though there was one student who wore a t-shirt with a photo of the tank about to run over the student, whom I warned to take care.  Actually he disappeared.  Whether he was taken from the school, or his father (who knew his son's obsession with that dark time in China's history) took him from the school.  I don't know.

Still, when Rita and Mandy came to Australia I did not set out to tell them anything about Chinese history that we know.  However, one of the host mothers 'saw it as her duty to tell them about it', and showed the video of the massacre on the Internet.

One morning, not long after I picked them up, Rita asked me if I knew what happened at Tienanmen Square.  I stopped the car - somewhat in shock.  We spoke for a short while about it.  The girls were rather traumatised to learn about it, and shocked that in their own country the information would be hidden from them.  I think they started to learn, how information is censored in China.  Rita phoned her father in China, and asked him, and reluctantly he told her that he had heard it happened, but they just didn't talk about the past.

Later this one one of my other students will visit Australia.  I look forward to that experience.