The Adventure Continues….

This experience has made so many memories for me, and now its time to make some more! For the next 2 weeks Charlotte, Esther and I will be in Cambodia. In Cambodia we will work with Asian Hope (a Christian charity) and visit some other charities. 2 years ago I went on a mission team to Cambodia and learnt about the history of the country. This country never left my heart. Its gruesome history has had a major effect on how it is today. There are so many issues such as exploitation, human trafficking and poverty. Asian Hope works to combat these problems. We will spend some time helping in the Christian schools run by Asian Hope. I am really excited for what is ahead. 

Here are some videos giving more information about Asian Hope and Cambodia.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbT0C4gNf70

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vx4fXGESe8U

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1feai36UxRo

 

Aside

Week 16 – Goodbye Hong Kong!

And so the time has come for me to write my final blog. Where have the last sixteen weeks went?! Before leaving for Hong Kong we heard the warnings of previous international students that ‘the time flies.’ I didn’t believe them, when I said goodbye at Dublin airport on 17th January 2014 it felt like I was leaving for a lifetime. Now, my time in Hong Kong has come to an end and I am left with the difficult task of summing up in words what truly has been a life-changing experience.

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17th January 2014

My teaching practice at Jockey Club Primary School for the past 4 months has transformed me as a teacher. The teachers at this school are inspirational. Whether it’s their hard-working nature, their genuine concern for the well-being and achievement of their pupils or their contagious enthusiasm, they have been excellent role models. Particular thanks must go to Miss Ko and Miss Tsang who I have worked with.  I have developed professionally in many ways, but the most important development is that I have become confident in my ability as a teacher.Furthermore, this incredibly rewarding 4 months has confirmed for me that teaching is my dream job.

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Miss Tsang and I

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Miss Ko and I

I have come to know my pupils so well and I really will miss them so much. The time at school has been hard-work but seeing the pupils’ progress and their enthusiasm for learning English has made it all worthwhile. They always keep me entertained and it has been a privilege to teach them. This picture of one of their journal entries which will help you to understand what they are like! So adorable, enthusiastic and entertaining.

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Hilarious

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Goodbye 5C!

But this experience wasn’t just meant to enhance me professionally. I cannot explain how much I have seen myself change personally through it. When I announced that I was going to Asia for 5 months I think many people were surprised. One person even said ‘she’ll last a month.’ But I did it! I survived! And I did more than survive, I have had the best 4 months of my life, making the most of every opportunity. My friend Jacqui joked with me saying, ‘You’ll go away a girl and come back a woman.’ This statement definitely has an element of truth. I have grown up so much, the challenges I have overcome have aided me in becoming a strong and independent person.

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All grown up

Hong Kong is very special place with so much to see. I love the Asian food, culture and way of life. It and its weird and wonderful ways has made Hong Kong home for me. But what I have learnt is that culture is more than just food. It’s about building relationships with the people of a place and learning about their ways of life. I have met some amazing people and can empathise with Adeney (2011) when she stated, “You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” Two people who need a special mention are Berry Huang and Lau Hiu Kwan, our friends from Stranmillis who became our friends in Hong Kong, who then became our friends for life. Without them, this experience would not have been what it was.

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Lifelong Friends

I would also like to thank Esther, Charlotte and David for improving my experience here in so many ways. We have had great fun and I don’t think we will ever stop talking about it. Similarly, I would like to thank Stranmillis University College for giving me this once in a lifetime opportunity, it has changed my life for the better. To conclude, Pauese (2013) states that,  “The richness of life lies in memories we have made” I’m happy that I have made these memories, memories that will last a lifetime!

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Happy Memories

References

Adeney, M. (2011). Miriam Adeney Quotes. [online] Available at: <http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/884213-you-will-never-be-completely-at-home-again-because-part&gt; [Accessed 5th May 2014].

Pauese, C. (2013) ‘Memories’, Search Quotes, [online] Available at: http://www.searchquotes.com/search.Making_Memories/ [Accessed 5th May 2014].

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End of an era

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Top Hat Party

Week 15 – Farewell to the ‘fun-loving forty-something’s’!

Hong Kong is a country unlike any other where East meets West, something my parents noticed. Although Hong Kong ceased to be a British colony in 1997, Western influence is still obvious with so many Western influences ingrained in its fabric. The modern architecture and signposts which are all written in English make life here much more welcoming than I had expected it to be. Yet, behind its skyscrapers it’s a country which is still traditionally Chinese at its centre. We can be standing looking at a traditional Chinese temple, whilst in the background is a horizon of advertisements for McDonalds or H&M.

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Cable Car

Holcombe (2011) notes that Hong Kong is a fast paced society, something which has become second nature to me. Mum and Dad could hardly keep up with my ‘brisk walking pace’. This is not the only way I continue to become like a Hong Konger, the girls in my flat described me as ‘very Asian’ this week as I ate noodles for breakfast one morning. The fast pace of Hong Kong is very different to life in Northern Ireland, where most people have a more laid back attitude to time. In Northern Ireland it is common for people to be extremely friendly to people even if they are complete strangers. Often people will make conversation at the bus stop or in the street. However, this is not the case in Hong Kong, everyone is always rushing about 24/7. Parents have a habit of embarrassing their children, and mine are no different. Dad was unaware of this unwritten social rule and tried to make small talk with locals on the MTR. This was much to the amusement of on looking Hong Kongers, especially because I had to translate his Northern Irish accent for them! Dad always keeps us entertained. Mum thought they were such cool adventurers travelling all around Hong Kong, describing her and Dad as ‘the fun-loving forty-something’s.’

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Minnie Mouse was such a lady.

Soon the holidays were over and I had to say goodbye to my parents once again and return to school. GTCNI (2010, p.39) states that, ‘teachers will use a range of teaching strategies and resources, including eLearning where appropriate…’ As society becomes increasingly modernized, I believe that this competence is increasingly important. Throughout my time at school here, I have had the unique opportunity to co-teach 5c, an e-learning class in which many revolutionary teaching techniques are put into practice.

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5C E-learning class

One of these is the use of Edmodo, a “social learning platform” website for teachers, students, and parents. Edmodo (2014) states that, “it helps connect all learners with the people and resources needed to reach their full potential.” Within my online classroom on Edmodo I can easily track pupils’ progress, upload files, make videos, give feedback, communicate with parents or other teachers at the click of a button. It is simple to use and I have found it to be extremely engaging. This week, while learning poetry, pupils have posted the poems they have written on to Edmodo. They were then able to peer-assess each other’s work. Often, class time goes so quickly, teachers often do not have time to look at all the work. However, thanks to Edmodo I have been able to give individual feedback to all my pupils. I am critical of how backward many schools are in Northern Ireland in regards to e-learning, and believe this professional enhancement is one which I will use in the future.

過後談話! (Speak soon!)

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Learning valuable teaching techniques.

 

References

Edmodo, (2014), About Edmodo, [online] Available at: https://www.edmodo.com/about,  [Accessed 25th April 2014].

GTCNI, (2010). Teaching: the Reflective Profession. [online] Available at: <http://www.gtcni.org.uk/userfiles/file/The%20Reflective%Profession%203rd%edition.pdf.&ft; [Accessed 15th April 2014].

Holcombe, C. (2011). The History of East Asia: From the Origins of Civilization to the Twenty- First Century. Cambridge University Press, USA

Week 14 – An Emotional Reunion

This week saw the long-awaited beginning of the Easter holidays, and therefore me being a lady of leisure for almost two weeks, bliss! However, what I was most excited about was the arrival in Hong Kong of my wonderful parents who I hadn’t seen for over 3 months. The 30 minutes waiting for them at the airport really did feel like an age. When I spotted them, looking slightly bedraggled and extremely tired dragging along their huge suitcases (filled mostly with stuff for me) I was overcome with emotion. I’ll never forget their faces and huge smiles when they spotted me. When I saw them I realized the true extent of how much I had really missed them. I can now say with certainty that distance really does make the heart grow fonder. Words cannot describe how ecstatic I felt and I will admit that there were tears, but only happy ones.

Arriving in Hong Kong!

Despite their jet-lag, this day began 10 incredible days of happy family memories which I will cherish for a lifetime. I was so proud to be able to show them around Hong Kong and grateful that they could gain an insight into my life here. They experienced a true glimpse into my world, whether that be getting on the wrong train, being stared at everywhere I go or embarrassing myself in public trying to use chopsticks. I have always known how fortunate I am to have great parents, but I appreciate them even more now.

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Airport Welcome Party

We visited Monkey Mountain, Lantau island, Stanley, the beach, Disneyland, Victoria Harbour and the Peak to name just some places. My Dad found it difficult to fathom how I have survived in such a crazy city independently for 3 months. I think it’s because I have followed Williamson’s (2013) advice to, “Make this new country your home and make every effort to assimilate and immerse yourself in the culture.” My parents noticed my increase in independence and just couldn’t believe that I have become a self-sufficient, independent young woman.  As my parents do not travel very much, this really was a once in a lifetime trip for them and I loved seeing them so in awe of everything that Hong Kong has to offer.

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‘An insight into my life’

As any teacher knows, a holiday is never really a holiday when marking is involved. While I wasn’t out enjoying myself I was marking what seemed like thousands of journal entries. GTCNI (2010) emphasizes the importance of teachers as reflective practitioners. This marking gave me a chance to reflect on my teaching techniques and on pupils’ progress. GTCNI (2010, p.40) states that, ‘teachers will focus on assessment for learning by monitoring pupils’ progress, giving constructive feedback to help pupils reflection and improve their learning.’ For me, marking can be extremely time-consuming because I always take time to give feedback which shows pupils how they can improve. Edmodo, an online classroom environment helps me to easily monitor progress and keep a record of pupils’ marks. Following this fun-filled week I can empathise with Disraeli (cited in Disraeli, B, 2008 , p.272) when he said “like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen”.

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My Wonderful Parents!

References

Disraeli B cited in Israelsen, A. (2008) Traveling for Her: An Inspirational Guide, For Her Productions, Laguna Beach.

GTCNI, (2010). Teaching: the Reflective Profession. [online] Available at: <http://www.gtcni.org.uk/userfiles/file/The%20Reflective%Profession%203rd%edition.pdf.&ft; [Accessed 15th April 2014].

Williamson, P. (2013) ‘Fitting into a New Culture’, Expatinvesting, available athttp://www.expatinvesting.org/fitting-into-a-new-culture-can-be-difficult/ (accessed 29/03/2013).

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We Love HK!

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Besties at Stanley

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Dad and I at Monkey Mountain

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Dad loved the monkeys

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Scary Monkeys

Week 13 – Positive Changes

So, this is my thirteenth blog post, and what an incredible thirteen weeks it has been!? Fortunately, I continue to see the changes this experience is having on me, every time I find something new and inspiring it alters me a little as an individual. Sometimes I see this change immediately, but more commonly it’s a change I notice on reflection. How could one not be affected as an individual, when they are I’m forced to live and interact within a completely different culture in a diverse society like Hong Kong? I often feel like a child experiencing and learning new things for the first time.  I can identify with Radmacher (2007, p.67) that, ‘I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.’ One particular change I have seen is a change in my attitudes, when I am in a difficult situation I worry less than I did previously. This is a major personal development which I know will positively impact me in future life.

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Well accustomed to the culture now!

Although I feel more and more at home in Hong Kong every day, the differences between it and Northern Ireland never cease to amaze me. One major advantage of Hong Kong is its public transport system. Bailie (2013) summarises life on the MTR well when he states that, “generally speaking, travelling on a public bus or the subway can be fun, you’ll be squashed in so tightly that you’ll be able to lift your feet off the floor without sliding down,” Although the MTR can be busy it is brilliant because I can go virtually anywhere in Hong Kong at any time. I don’t know how I will ever use public transport at home again, especially when more than 2 minutes waiting for a train or bus here feels like a lifetime. Whether it’s the lack of personal space on the MTR or another rare type of food we spot at the market, Hong Kong surprises us daily. We always think we have seen it all, I think this shows that Hong Kong really is an incredible place!

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Crowded Train

Professionally, I have had further opportunities to develop into a more competent teacher. Esther and I have organised a recess treasure hunt to help pupils learn more English and have fun. It has been so rewarding due to its extreme popularity among all pupils. Furthermore, we have been assisting on a weekly basis at the drama club. This has helped us to develop the skills necessary to coordinate a play within a school, skills I hope to use in a job in the future. Not only this, but we have also been assisting Gavin (the NET teacher at the school) with oral English practice. Primary three students will be participating in public English examinations in May so as preparation we have been organising small group activities for every afternoon to improve the pupils’ oral communication. GTCNI (2010, p.39) states that, ‘Teachers will contribute to the life and development of the school…’ I firmly believe that extra-curricular activities are essential for the life of a school and to develop every pupils’ full potential. This is why I am so glad to have had the chance to display and develop this competence.

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Small Group English Activities

In conclusion, I have always been told that you get as much out of an experience as what you put into it. Putting all my effort into this teaching practice has made it a truly wonderful, and most enriching experience.

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Treasure Hunt Fun!

References

Bailie, B. (2013), Prepare Yourself for China – The Visitor’s Survival Guide to China. [online] Available at ebookkit.com [Accessed 15th April 2014].

GTCNI, (2010). Teaching: the Reflective Profession. [online] Available at: <http://www.gtcni.org.uk/userfiles/file/The%20Reflective%Profession%203rd%edition.pdf.&ft; [Accessed 15th April 2014].

Radmacher, M.A. (2007). Lean Forward Into Your Life: Begin Each Day As If It Were on Purpose,San Francisco, Conari Press.

Week 12 – Beautiful Beijing!

This week we had our second China travelling adventure! China Travel Guide (2013) states that, “the real culture of Beijing is the culture of the Hutong and Courtyards. How true that is.” Due to our busy schedule we only had 3 full days in Beijing, therefore we wanted to stay in a destination in which we could experience Chinese culture at its best. Travel China Guide (2013) states that, “Hutong is a Mongolian word meaning water well. At nine meters (about 30 feet) wide, it is the name given to a lane or small street that originated during the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368).” We absolutely loved staying in and exploring these narrow streets because they held so much character, alongside an array of interesting sights and people. Furthermore, it meant we could learn about local history and culture. I expected Beijing to look exactly the same as Hong Kong, but to my surprise I experienced an unforgettably beautiful, scenic area right in the heart of Beijing.

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A beautiful lake in Hutong

Throughout our time in Beijing we went to The Forbidden City, Summer Palace, ate Peking duck (a Beijing speciality), got a massage in the street for just 2 pounds, experienced the Chinese markets, watched a Chinese acrobatics show and met some extremely memorable characters. From the guy who serenaded us on a crowded metro, to the taxi driver who became a true friend, the people we met in Beijing really did kept us entertained. However, my personal highlight has to be seeing the Great Wall of China. I am in agreement with the famous Chinese saying, ‘He who does not reach the Great Wall is not a true man’. It was a great engineering marvel which I was truly overwhelmed to experience. As one of the great wonders of the world, it is a world famous place which I never imagined I would get the chance to see.

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Peking Duck

But now I can tick it off my life’s bucket list and be sure that our weekend in Beijing was an adventure which I will be telling my grandchildren about someday. It was brilliant to be reunited with some of my friends from school in Beijing. My 2 friends, both called Kathryn were in Beijing visiting our friend Chloe. Chloe is spending a year out in Beijing studying Mandarin as part of her university degree.

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The Great Wall

We were extremely grateful to Chloe for her inside knowledge on where to go and what to see. Having lived in Beijing for 9 months now, she really was an expert on Beijing and in Mandarin. This made getting taxis, ordering meals and speaking to locals much easier and helped us have the best Beijing experience we could. It was interesting to learn more from Chloe about the communist government in China. As a Christian, it saddened me to learn about the strict rules surrounding religion in China. This means that many believers in China are not able to have a Bible due to the restrictions on how many Bibles are printed within the country. Experience of a culture like this benefited me professionally as an R.E teacher. Personally, I think this helped me to develop into a more thankful person, particularly in regards to the freedom I have in Northern Ireland.

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Reunited at the Forbidden City

An ancient Chinese proverb advises us, “Don’t listen to what they say. Go see.” I love this advice this and thoroughly enjoyed my once-in-a lifetime opportunity to experience one of the most famous cities in the world.

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Dressing up at Forbidden City with ‘a real Chinese Emperor’

References

Travel China Guide, (2013), Beijing Hutong. [online] Available at: http://www.travelchinaguide.com/cityguides/beijing/hutong/  [Accessed 12th April 2014].

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Reunited

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Childhood friends at Summer Palace

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Amazing!

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Beautiful Beijing!

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Best Friends!

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Candy floss for breakfast

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Chinese Acrobats

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The cheapest massage I have ever had.

Week 11 – Organising, Opportunities and Octopus’ Tentacle

This week Esther and I took further opportunities to visit some of the students at their homes. I went to Kyle, Vanessa and Maya’s home. Each of these home visits provided a valuable insight into the home life of these pupils. The pupils were all aged 7 and from the same class, however their English ability never ceased to amaze me. At the homes I engaged in every type of activity imaginable; from playing Hong Kong Monopoly to tasting Octopus’ tentacle I really did experience it all! At some of the home visits, the parents’ English was limited. Thankfully, the language barrier did not create too much of a communication barrier, it is amazing how much can be said through a smile or a laugh. I am truly grateful for the kindness I have received from the local people here. Although I was extremely nervous about these home visits, I know that the experience has assisted my personal development as it has given me confidence. All in all, I was just delighted to get the chance to experience more of the culture I have grown to love so much.

'The Cow Pose'

‘The Cow Pose’

As a teacher, I believe that parents are essential for pupils’ achievement and success. Having discussed this with the principal of our school, she agreed with me that parents are a valuable asset. Mandel (2007) notes the importance of parents and teachers collaborating. Specifically, Mandel (2007, p.8) notes that involving parents meaningfully should, ‘not be confined to activities that take place in the school building.’ I have developed professionally through the completion of the home visits as it has helped me learn how to build a meaningful relationship with parents of my pupils. In many schools in Northern Ireland there is little parental involvement, which is something I am critical of. As a qualified teacher, I will most definitely strive to work closely with parents to help every child achieve their potential.

So cute

So Cute!

In school this week, I worked as part of a team of teachers and outside educational professionals to organise an experimentation teaching programme. This involved attending planning meetings and preparing lessons on the topic of Space for my 5C class. I have noticed that teaching methods in Hong Kong are sometimes teacher-centred and book-based, something which I am not used to. However, this experimentation programme gave pupils the opportunity to participate in more active learning, something which is highly valued within the Northern Ireland Curriculum. As a result of my previous teaching experience in Northern Ireland I was able to contribute ideas within the meetings. The pupils seemed to enjoy and benefit from this alternative teaching method.

5C enjoyed making and testing their rockets to see which planet they could fly to!

5C enjoyed making and testing their rockets to see which planet they could fly to!

BLAST OFF!

BLAST OFF!

At the weekend, we were delighted to welcome Siobhan, Jayne, Adam and Lloyd to Hong Kong. It was great to see some friendly faces and enjoy some ‘Northern Irish craic’. Despite the terrible weather, we enjoyed meals out, a trip to Ocean Park, a cycle tour, a trip to the Peak and much more. It was great to celebrate Adam’s 21st Birthday with him and to have the chance to compare the highs and lows of our experiences so far.

Hong Kong Cycle Tour!

Hong Kong Cycle Tour!

Thanks for reading,

Olivia

References

Mandel, S., (2007), The Parent-Teacher Partnership, How to Work Together for Student Achievement, Chicago: Zephyr Press.

Hong Kong Monopoly

Hong Kong Monopoly

Fun!

Fun!

Stranmillis students at Ocean Park!

Stranmillis students at Ocean Park!

Ocean Park Dolphin Show

Ocean Park Dolphin Show

Week 10 – Teaching Is Definitely The Career For Me!

 

Home Visits!

Home Visits!

Howard (1978,p.83) emphasizes the importance of family as she states, ‘Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe or call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.’ For me, the clear highlight of this week has been the completion of the first of four home visits. We have had the privilege of gaining a true insight into family life in Hong Kong by attending pupils’ homes for dinner. I am very close to my family, therefore one of the most challenging aspects of the last 10 weeks has been not being with them. Consequently, it was particularly special for me to be welcomed into the home of Moby, Dodo and Colan. My evening consisted of making bracelets, chatting, eating, laughing and further improving my ability to use chop sticks.

The girls are great at art!

The girls are great at art!

On arrival home from school, the three children went straight to their tutor for two hours. To my surprise, their Mum told me that they have tuition not once a week, but four times a week.  Venter (2002) notes that the Hong Kong Chinese can be described as having a strong work ethic. Furthermore, as highlighted by Johns and Ha (1999) ‘parents and educators in Hong Kong have always placed great emphasis on their children’s academic education.’ In previous placements in Northern Ireland, I have experienced something quite different, with some parents having very little concern about their children’s education. It seems that schools which lack parental support can have great difficulty in many areas, particularly classroom management. Perhaps one of the reasons why pupils in Hong Kong are often extremely successful is as a result of parental support. However, in some cases, the pressure on children from parents can be colossal.

Through discussions with Moby’s Mum, I have come to the realisation that often children in Hong Kong do not have time for personal recreation. This is one aspect of Hong Kong life which I am critical of, as I believe that this is essential for a child’s holistic development. Furthermore, Sims, R. (1995) highlights that children have different learning styles. Colan’s Mum agreed with me that children can learn so much from real life experiences. She explained that her children seldom have time to have these experiences or to have quality family time, due to the amount of homework they receive.

The teachers at Jockey Club Primary School also work extremely hard to provide the best education that they can for these children, often staying in school until 8pm or later. Esther and I have found ourselves following this example due to a large workload and a busy schedule of extra-curricular activities. GTCNI (2007, p. 36) competence 18 states that, ‘Teachers will manage their time and workload effectively and efficiently and maintain a work/ life balance.’ This is a competence which I have been forced to develop. Nevertheless, all this hard work has not been a negative experience, instead it has made it a more positive one. It is all made worthwhile as I get to know my pupils through school trips while also watching them progress, improve and develop in class. Teaching is a rewarding and satisfying job and this experience has confirmed for me that I have made the right career choice!

Another school trip this week.

Another school trip this week.

Friends!

Friends!

Moreover, the hectic lifestyle and hard work I am experiencing in Hong Kong has given me the chance to develop personally. I have learnt to manage stressful situations and a busy life-style, something which will definitely help me in the future. I can see myself changing as each day passes, adapting to new situations and coping more effectively and independently than I have in the past.

Thanks for reading,

Olivia

School trips are great fun for teachers and pupils!

School trips are great fun for teachers and pupils!

 

References

GTCNI, (2007), Teaching: the Reflective Profession. [online] Available at: http://www.gtcni.org.uk/userfiles/file/The%Reflective%Profession%203rd%20edition.pdf.&gt; [Accessed 25th March 2014].

Howard, J., (1978), Families, London, Transaction Publishers.

Johns, D.P., & Ha, A.S. (1999), Home and recess physical activity of Hong Kong children. Research Quarterly for exercise and sport, 70, 319-323.

Sims, R., (1995), The Importance of Learning Styles – Understanding the Implications for Learning, Course Design and Education. United States of America: Greenwood Press.

Venter, K., (2002), Common Careers, Different Experiences: Women managers in Hong Kong and Britain. Hong Kong University Press, Hong Kong.

Week 9 – Food, Fun and Friendship

Jackie Chan is arguably one of Hong Kong’s most loved and well-known celebrities. Since coming to Hong Kong I have become a fan of him. I am in agreement with Chan (2012) when he stated,

“We live now in a global village and we are in one single family. It’s our responsibility to bring friendship and love from all different places around the world and to live together in peace.”

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Carnival Of Cultures

Over the past 2 months, I have definitely put this advice into practice by building friendships with both locals and other international students from all over the world. This week I felt this sense of family when our university hosted its annual ‘Carnival of Cultures Showcase.’ This consisted of all the international students preparing a stall to represent their country. There were stalls from the UK, Hong Kong, Germany, Sweden, Korea, China, America and many other countries. The day positively celebrated cultural diversity – something I value highly.  There were over 200 people present for the afternoon which consisted of performances from local schools and the countries represented. I particularly enjoyed learning more about many cultures and sampling the food of each nation represented.  The atmosphere was simply terrific.

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The winning performance was by JCPS with a little help from some enthusiastic teachers!

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Team UK

Kurlansky (2009, p.14) states that, ‘Food is a central activity of mankind and one of the most significant trademarks of culture.’ Therefore, for our stall we baked 200 ‘Top Hats’, a Victoria Sponge and other British treats. These and the information we provided about the UK were greatly appreciated by all the guests. Our hard work was rewarded when we received the award for ‘best stall’. It was an honour and privilege to represent our country at such a special event!

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Teachers and pupils celebrating after winning ‘Best Stall’ and ‘Best Performance’!

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I can’t wait to enjoy our prize!

I am certain that my experience in Hong Kong is helping me develop GTCNI (2007, p.26) competence 8 which notes that teachers should develop,‘a knowledge and understanding of the need to take account of significant features of pupils’ cultures, languages and faiths.’ In my classroom, I will endeavour to make every child feel respected and valued no matter what culture or faith they come from.  Skinner (2010) notes that there were 6,995 newcomer pupils in Northern Ireland schools in 2009. With this number growing rapidly, learning about other cultures at events such as this is invaluable to me.

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Our pupils embracing British culture!

While observing lessons this week, it has come to my attention that the teachers sometimes use reading aloud / presenting an idea to the class as a punishment for bad behaviour. Many pupils appear to be shy and reluctant to speak in class. It has forced me to rethink my teaching technique. To engage more pupils, it is necessary that I ask particular students the answers instead of just asking those who volunteer their answers. Perhaps this could  be because English is not their first language. Alternatively, it could be attributable to their “high-context culture” as highlighted by Hall (cited in Zhu, 2005). In future, I will know how to teach newcomer pupils coming from this culture, whose communication styles are likely to be different to ours.

At the weekend, we had the privilege of spending the day on the Logos Hope Ship which has recently arrived in Hong Kong. As a Christian, this was a very encouraging day for me. OM (2014) states that the ship travels around, ‘bringing knowledge help and hope to the people of the world.’ It was amazing to hear about the work they do and meet people serving on the ship from 53 different countries.

Thanks for reading,

Olivia

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A Brilliant Day!

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Ahoy Shipmates!

References

Chan, J. (2012), World Peace. [online] Available at: <http://www.changemakrs.com/worldpeace/quotes&gt; [Accessed 19th March 2014].

GTCNI, (2007), Teaching: the Reflective Profession. [online] Available at: http://www.gtcni.org.uk/userfiles/file/The%20Reflective%20Profession%203rd%20edition.pdf.&gt; [Accessed 18th March 2014].

Kurlansky, M. (2009) The Food of a Younger Land, New York, Riverhead Books.

OM, (2014), Global Action. [online] Available at: <http://www.omships.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=51&Itemid=87&lang=en&gt; [Accessed 19th March 2014].

Skinner, B. (2010), ‘EAL and ITE: views and experiences from NI’. Journal of Education for Teaching, 36, 1, 75-90.

Zhu, Y. (2005) Written Communication Across Cultures. John Benjamin Publishing, USA.

Week 8 – Feeling Like A ‘Proper’ Teacher

Shedd (1885, cited in Biadasz, Clemons & Possett 2006, p.32) stated,

“A ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”

shippy

This sums up my experiences this week, I have taken risks, embraced new challenges and grown as a result. I have had the chance to take on a huge amount of responsibility as a teacher. My first challenge was taking 30 pupils on a school trip. Esther, David, Charlotte and I were the only teachers present so I felt like lives were well and truly in my hands. Luckily, everybody survived and had a wonderful day. It was adorable that the pupils were so excited about showing us around their local community. We went to the Railway Museum, Buddhist Temple and Street Market. I am in agreement with Unicef (2007) that, ‘our children are truly the best teachers.’  I learnt so much about the culture and way of life of the Hong Kong people from the trip with the children.  At the market, finding the rarest type of Hong Kong food to show to ‘Miss Olivia’ became an unofficial competition. The pupils thrived on seeing my shocked reaction to duck’s kidney, pig’s lung and much more.

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Top Teachers!

This trip also aided pupils in their learning. The Hong Kong Curriculum Development Council (2004,p.11) states that,

‘schools are encouraged to create a language-rich environment by: providing greater opportunities for learners to use English for purposeful communication both inside and outside the classroom.’

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Excited Pupils!

I believe that school trips are essential, so often they create purpose, interest and meaning for learning. The teachers at Jockey Club Primary School appreciated our willingness to take the trip as it was the perfect opportunity for the pupils to practice their English.

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A Wonderful Day!

As my class teacher has been absent this week I have had to take over her role. This has involved full responsibility of 5C’s lessons, attending staff meetings, corresponding online with pupils using Edmodo software and much more. The life of a ‘proper teacher’ is not a simple one! I have enjoyed teaching English lessons on synonyms, adverbs of frequency and the solar system. On reflection, I have understood more fully the importance of teaching English to pupils in Hong Kong. Hong Kong Curriculum Development Council (2004,p.13) states that that English is,

‘an integral part of the school curriculum that provides students with a wide range of learning experiences to enhance their:

  • English language proficiency
  • Personal and intellectual development, and social skills;
  • Cultural understanding; and
  • Global competitiveness.’

Last week I visited the Kindergarten on campus and observed pupils aged 3 learning English. Therefore, the benefits of teaching languages from an early age has come to my attention.  I have seen that learning a language develops an array of other useful skills for the whole development of a person. Therefore, I am critical of the Northern Ireland curriculum which does not include modern languages as compulsory in Primary School.

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Elearning Is The Way Forward!

Fortunately, long overdue change could be imminent. DENI (2012, p.7) recommends that, ‘pupils have the opportunity to study at least two languages in  addition to their mother tongue from the earliest possible age.’ Undoubtedly, I have been challenged this week professionally. However, this has been valuable because it has helped me to become a more capable teacher.

On a personal note, we entered a University Singing Competition this week. This is a risk we would never take at Stranmillis. However, we rose to the challenge and have reached the final thanks to an ‘interesting’ performance of ‘You belong with me’ by Taylor Swift. We are experiencing ’15 minutes of fame’ because of posters and videos of us up around campus. Every celebrity starts somewhere, watch this space!

Until next time,

Olivia.

References

Biadasz, P., Clemons, M. & Possett, R. (2006), Powerful People Are Powerful Teachers, Your Daily Guide To Becoming A Powerful Teacher, United States of America: iUniverse.

DENI. (2012), Languages For The Future. [online] Available at: http://www.deni.gov.uk/languages_for_the_future.pdf. [Accessed 11th March 2014].

Hong Kong Curriculum Development Council, (2004), English Language Education Key Learning Area, English Language Curriculum Guide. [online] Available at: http://www.edb.gov.hk/attachment/en/curriculum-development/kla/eng-edu/primary%201_6.pdf [Accessed 10th March 2014].

Unicef, (2007), “Our Children are Truly the Best Teachers.” [online] Available at:  http://www.unicef.org/zambia/5108_5176.html [Accessed 11 March 2014].

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