Tag Archives: ex-students

Reflections on a busy day here

Thanks to all those who were at the Catholic ESL teacher gathering at Leichhardt today. You have led to a new record in visits here. Sitemeter shows clearly when you had your workshop session on the blog. This is by hours today, ochre=visits, red=page views:


I thought I would share something that I just found again on my personal blog archive for 2005. The ex-student referred to was in the original Year 10 class for whom the site was first developed in a very rudimentary way.

I had an email the other day that cheered me up.

This is James Zhang from the class of 2003 and I’m glad to see that your [English and ESL] site has gone from useful to delightful.

I still remember studying your charming compilation of Chinese stories and cultural insights* back in Year 10, and I hope that they are still as welcome in the classroom.

I held dreams of writing my own novels back in Year 12 (and diverted a significant part of my study time to keep an ideas journal), but that fell through …

Now, I’ve resolved to get started on this path because I’ve identified this as a dream too important to leave unrealised.

I gave him a few leads, and he replied:

Thanks for the leads and I’ll pursue them before signing up.

I’d very much like to meet you in person again, so if you have no objections, please let me know when you’ll be on school grounds. One of my biggest regrets in High School was that I never discussed deeper issues with the teachers – my standard schoolboy questions hardly did justice to their years of colourful experience. I did a bit of this in Year 12, and a lot of it now in Uni, but I would’ve loved to have talked more with you when in your classes. I hope it’s not too late?

So we have arranged to have a chat later this week, though I warned him I was these days just a grumpy old man. To which he replied:

Your ‘grumpiness’ never struck me as anything less than a passionate world view that seeks to be as accommodating as possible given the prejudices and errors of the world. I believe we’ll get along fine!

Aw shucks!

He is from China originally, but as you can see his English is in very good shape nowadays.

We did have that coffee, and a yum cha six months later with another ex-student, Hilbert Chiu (2000), who has gone on to become a lawyer AND a medieval historian.

* James is referring to From Yellow Earth to Eucalypt (Longman 1995).

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Posted by on September 19, 2007 in esl for teachers, for teachers, multiculturalism, site news


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A voice you just can’t ignore

You’ll find Ali Alsamail in the NSW HSC All-Rounders List 2004, those with top performances across the board. I remember him as a leader in the school in sport and academia. He is of Iraqi background and arrived in Australia in 1995.

I thought of him again as I was writing a long post on my personal blog during the past twelve hours: Extended comment: On the extreme ugliness of fanatics of all kinds…. The theme there is the way we who are not Muslim conceive Islam, especially given current politics and dominant media representations.

In the course of my research I came across a couple of essays Ali had written more recently. One moved me very deeply, and I would love simply to rip it off here, but I do not have Ali’s permission. The essay is called Prisoner of Golden Chains . It went online, it appears, in November 2006. Here is the merest taste:

One day, I heard that somewhere, far away from here, people were imprisoned, then raped, tortured and dragged around on leashes like animals without any justification. The pictures I saw showed me an evil I had never imagined before. I felt pain and anger, but I knew I could change nothing, so I told the pain to go away, and told the anger to shut up. I told the sense of injustice I felt to be quiet, because that was somewhere else, far away from here — it was what we leave behind before coming here.

The next day, I heard that a group of kids, somewhere far away from here, were stopped at a checkpoint on their way to school. Well-trained soldiers could only communicate with these kids by pointing guns at them, so the kids had to sit on the sidewalk and have their class right there. It made me want to cry, but I told the tears to go back…

The conclusion is superb.

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Posted by on January 20, 2007 in Australian, diversity, equity/welfare, gifted education, multiculturalism, writing


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