Thursday, July 2, 2009

ESOL Conversation Classes

This week our ESOL conversation class hosted the school staff to lunch. What an exciting array of food we were presented with - food from the home countries of our class members including Malaysia, China, Japan, Nepal and India.
Mrs. Jan Probert, our ESOL teacher, is a really neat person and an xcellent teacher. Jan mamages to embrace people from other countries and make them feel at ease.
During the lunch , all the class members had to introduce their food. I was particularly taken with the symbolism behind some of the dishes: The making dumplings for example is a Chinese family activity and represents everyone working together in harmony!
Apart from the symbolic, the food tasted great!We are so lucky to live in a country where newcomers are, on the whole, accepted and made feel welcome.
The members of our conversation class are all lovely people who will add to the richness we already possess. Haere Mai koutou katoa!!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Kia ora tatou katoa – The Recession

When I lived in Wellington I used to dine from time to time at The Green Parrot Restaurant. Their portions are legendary and each meal comes with piles of fresh white bread and real butter! Established in 1923, this diner is well known as a favourite haunt of politicians. More importantly The Green Parrot has a loyal following because during the Great Depression the owners fed from their back door the poor and hungry with leftover food. That was over 70 years ago but the loyalty to this Wellington establishment is still strong.

Today I read “A Generous Difference”, a paper by Vivian Hutchinson, the beginning of which I have taken the liberty of recording here:

“The Great Depression of the 1930s was one of the most fertile periods in Western history for social innovation ... and our current economic crisis will no doubt demand just as much creativity and innovation from all of us. This paper looks at what social innovation is, and discusses the key role that philanthropy can play in fostering fresh thinking and action on our country’s social challenges.

In this paper, Vivian Hutchinson discusses some key strategies for philanthropy at this time:
1. Let’s meet this recession with our generosity ... which means being generous in our thought as well as our resources.”
Vivian Hutchinson’s speech was part of a workshop on Philanthropy and Social Innovation — New Approaches in a Changing World - given at the Philanthropy New Zealand conference, March 2009. The full text can be read online, and downloaded from:

The successive Green Parrot owners certainly have benefitted from the generosity of the founders over the intervening years and their story is a pertinent one for us as we currently face tough times. What an interesting take on the challenge of the economic downturn – turn it into a positive by being generous in thought and action!

Kind regards,

John McKenzie
Community Development

I have just completed the Ministry of Education's absentee survey. I was struck by the question about how our school deals with patterns of absence. There was no option to tick "Offer family support" ! And yet this is what we do at NEV Normal.

The point is that absenteeism is a complex issue closely related to family dysfunction and community well being. It is not that parents want their children to fail - to the contrary it is an indicator of failing parents.

And this is where we should be focusing our attention - strengthening the family and the community.