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Monday, 3 June 2013

What Matters?

Back at work today after a week’s leave. We enjoyed a family holiday break in Penang (4 days) and Fraser Hill (1 night). The sojourn in Penang was for the purpose of finding suitable accommodation for our August arrival in the “Pearl of the Orient” and the location for my new work contract. Secured a very pleasant 3 bedroom apartment in a new condominium and met the outgoing Director of Tenby Schools Penang, Mr. Phillip, who interviewed me last month and offered me the post of Head of Primary International Section, Penang. (I think I will call myself the Head of the Primary International School though).

View from our apartment-to-be, 7th floor / Unit 7, Surin, Penang

A return to school leadership... I am excited and a little apprehensive, mindful of the unhappy circumstances surrounding my departure from Bangkok in October 2011, and the emotional assault on my memories and general well-being. Not to mention the marital stress at that time. But I sense and hope for a closing of this process of catharsis that has seen me return to Malaysia, working here in Johor Bahru as an Advisor, learning a few new skills and preparing me both mentally and practically with what tools I may need in a new school leadership position. I pray and hope that all will be well at Tenby Penang, and that I will be able to move the Primary International Section forward, and lay to rest any ambivalences that lie lurking at the depths of my soul.
I am looking forward to putting into practice myself some of the pedagogical principles and strategies I have been encouraging the Malaysian teachers here in Johor to implement. I sense it will go some way to changing the way I have traditionally taught. Change can be uncomfortable and challenging, but I feel I must grow with this new opportunity.
Spent some time this morning with my daughter... How lovely she is; how she seeks connection and engagement, play and interaction. We played our balloon game, ate sliced mango together, and discussed the need to paint parts of the 'space rocket' before assembling it together with glue!
What matters is that I can enjoy my children’s company while they are children, that I can be a worthy father and husband. That I can hold it all together for most of the time. The Corpus Christi celebration in church yesterday left me feeling quite shallow. The array of male church leaders – priests, assistant priests, deacons and a bishop behind the altar – brought back old questions of why the Catholic Church is so male-centred. Is this what God decrees? Is this part of the natural order? How does this resonate with the revolutionary message of Jesus Christ? For me, it seems not to resonate very well at all; and with all those robes and pomp and display, it seems to be a million miles away from what He Who was slain on a cross might have wanted, I feel…
It matters that we remain optimistic and strive a for a better world, that we use our intellect, our facilities and bodies for good and not for non-goods and evil. How easy at times to drift into apathy, laziness and a weariness for life’s joyous struggles!
The one night at Fraser Hill was memorable for the meal at Scott’s Restaurant and the short visit to Ye Olde Smokehouse. Ah the Fuller’s English Ale at Scott’s was indeed a joy to imbibe and to wallow in reminiscences of Sunday afternoon drinks on walks in Cambridgeshire, ending at fine taverns.

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