At the beginning of June I was diagnosed with SCCHNC STAGE IVA- Squamous Cell Carcinoma Head and Neck Cancer Advanced Stage, located at the base of my tongue and metastasized to my right cervical (neck) lymph glands.
After a series of tests- PET scans, MRI scans, CT scans, Ultrasound and biopsies, I became a patient at the state-of-the-art (and-science) Peter Mac Hospital in central Melbourne Victoria, Australia.
I was familiar with the name Peter Mac, as my Dad underwent a clinical trial of apheresis in the 1970s.
Sir Peter MacCallum, MC, FRSE, FRCPE (14 July 1885 – 4 March 1974) was a Scottish-born Australian oncologist and the co-founder of Victoria's Peter Mac Centre.
See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_MacCallum. Also see https://www.petermac.org/about
The new building has just celebrated its first birthday. Happy birthday, and thank you to all the partner organisations, specialist healthcare teams, financial supporters and volunteers for making this a world-class centre.
Stepping through the doors for the first time was overwhelming, with my emotions spinning from disbelief: What am I doing here? I have been a healthy person....to humbling gratitude that we have such a centre here, where I am , right here and now. Thank you.
This blog series, commenced early July 2017 is my attempt to learn and to educate, from a patient perspective about SCCHNC. Thank you for your reading, and support.
Left: the enquiries desk.
Below: As of Monday 24 July, I will descend the radiation therapy steps 35 times
( 5 days a week for 7 weeks)!
Preparing for treatment: The radiation therapy specialists are perfectionists in getting the CT scanning just right, and the custom-fit neck and head rest and mask made so that the therapy targets the same points each time, for 35 times over seven weeks.
The preparation felt like a heat therapy treatment and I could breathe easily through my nose
(or my mouth).
So I know I can do this... set up for about 20 minutes, then a few minutes of treatment ( 35 times).
Please join me in my journey of learning and discovery.
CT SCAN: A computed tomography (CT) scan uses X-rays to make detailed pictures of parts and structures inside your body
Thank goodness for these neat and discreet sick bags.
BELOW: An MRI scanner
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses large magnet and radio waves to look at organs and structures inside your body. It can be quite noisy inside, but cosy.
You can pretend you are going on your own space journey. I was given a set of headphones and could choose music for the journey. I chose Mozart...of course!
I am part of a clinical trial to test the difference between two different chemotherapy treatments combined with radiotherapy 'FOR GOOD PROGNOSIS locoregionally advanced HPV associated oropharyngeal SCC'.
Don't you love those words 'good prognosis'?
It means I am more likely to recover from this ordeal, than not.
And with your thoughts and prayers too, I will!
The following seven weeks will be like running a very tough marathon, and then some... as the treatment keeps working after this, and my new normal may take several months to arrive!
No! This is NOT my after recovery picture. Through a process called 'video fluoroscopy', we, or at least the speech pathologists could capture x-ray images of my swallowing-liquid, puree, and puree on bread. And we could see it all in motion too.
I had a hearing test too. Both my hearing and swallowing, as well as my tasting and voice may be affected during the treatment
READY FOR THE MARATHON
Guess I am as ready as I can be for the coming weeks. I have had my first loading chemo dose without ill effect- but with a few pre-medications- anti-nausea, anti-histamine and steroid to reduce side effects.
I'll tell you more about the PEG tube placed into my stomach
as a contingency plan for feeding directly into the stomach
should I not be able to eat due to the treatment.
The process is called Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy (PEG).
I feel as I have done 1,000 consecutive sit-ups. Ouch!
We are now close to Peter Mac, just 15 minutes' steady walk, in a light-filled, warm and sunny room
with cooking facilities.
So glad, David, my nearest and dearest, enjoys shopping and cooking, and making the best smoothies.
Will share some of his delicious recipes soon!
My favourite full-of-tricks and energetic Monkey King in the Ramayana performance at Uluwatu temple, Bali.
Two days later, on 1 June, I was on my way back to Melbourne, Australia, for further investigation of possible Head and Neck Cancer (HNC).
So now I am a participant-observer researcher in this unexpected learning journey.
My aim is to create awareness of what it means to have a diagnosis of HNC.
I also have a chance to observe collaborative and compassionate leadership in action at the Box Hill Hospital and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne.
My cancer has been diagnosed as squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the base (very back) of my tongue.
It was not visible via an ordinary oral examination and was asymptomatic until it metastasised (invaded) the cervical lymph nodes on the side of my neck. I put it down to a low grade infection and stress-related. I was totally ignorant of what this enlargement could be.
Cancer in this location is linked with tobacco or the HP (human papilloma virus). I have never smoked - not one cigarette. Ever! Or anything else...
The HP virus is also linked with cervical cancer. There is now a vaccine to protect against HP virus. See www.hpvvaccine.org.au
Michael Douglas, the Hollywood actor, and Julie McCrossin, ABC Presenter, also had HNCs linked with the HP virus. See Julie's story at www.targetingcancer.com.au
The good news is that the chances of recovery from HPV linked HNC are higher than from tobacco-related HNC.
After one month of diagnostic tests, including biopsies, CT, PET and MRI scans, I am preparing for a seven week, five days-a-week combined chemo/radiotherapy treatment at the world-class Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. See www.petermac.org
Preparing to make the mask in the radiotherapy treatment centre at Peter Mac.
This part of the process is comfortable, involving a CT scan, creating a special head and neck cushion moulded to your specific shape, dipping a flat plastic mesh into a warm bath to make it pliable and then ensuring an exact fit. It is easy to breathe, and I was visualising a special memory of a walk in rural Tuscany early Spring. It is critical for treatment to have perfectionists working with you so the treatment targets the exact same spot each time (35 times, 5 times a week, for 7 weeks).
Sunday April 2017, the Jakarta Post "Tourism Ministry highlights sustainable tourism in co-ordination meeting."
This is the United Nations International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
China's Professor Bao Jigang and his dedicated team at the School of Tourism Management, Sun Yat-sen university, Guangzhou-Zhuhai campuses have led the way in establishing MCSTOs...Monitoring Centres for Sustainable Tourism Observatories with several successful collaborations with local governments and tourism service providers, for example, Yangshou since 2005, Zhangjiajie 2011, Huangshan 2011, Chengdu 2012 and Kanas 2012.
In the last year, five MCSTOs have been set up in Indonesia, with co-ordination from Bandung Institute of Technology, North Sumatra University, Gajah Mada University Yogyakarta, Udayana University, Bali and University of Mataram, Lombok. BIT, UGM and UNRAM have been recognized as MCSTOs by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation and are part of the International Network INSTOs.
This is great news, and thank you to my Chinese and Indonesian colleagues for the conversations and mutual learning about tourism in the context of sustainable development over many years.
Congratulations! And onwards...The journey continues
Things of consequence: creating possibility
Ordinary moments may lead us to moments of delighted surprise and things of consequence.
Homeward bound on a bus from Macquarie University to Sydney’s North-eastern beach suburbs, I fell into easy conversation with my handsome Colombian colleague. He was reading in English Marley and Me (John Grogan, 2005 Harper Collins) and gently recommended me to read Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. I wasted little time in getting acquainted with the magic realism of One Hundred Years of Solitude, and Love in the Time of Cholera. Books are like mirrors in which we find inspiration for our living and deep reflections of real life.
In 1982, dialogue for peace began in Colombia. A Peace deal has finally been signed in 2016, bringing to an end more than fifty years of conflict. This doesn’t mean that conflict has disappeared, but that there are now different models for dialogue and negotiation.
The peace process seemed to be scuttled when a plebiscite held to ratify the peace agreement with FARC resulted in more “no” votes than “yes”. It seemed that Garcia’s One Hundred Years of Solitude was still playing out in real-life, presenting contradictions with “a capacity for surprise”… “where no one knew where the limits of reality lay.”
President Juan Manuel Santos embarked on further dialogue to enhance the unity and reconciliation process. Being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2016 brought these processes to a positive and comprehensive conclusion.
At the core of Colombia’s process are the victims and principles of human rights. It was refreshing to listen to BBC World Service’s The Inquiry this morning. Rather than gloom and doom, the four segments had a theme of “What went right in 2016?”
The first story was about Teresita Gaviria and the mothers of the disappeared –Madres de la Candelaria- who have gathered one day a week since the late 1990s – to protest the disappearance of their loved ones, and then began to visit and talk with the fighters, perpetrators of mass violence, in gaol. Gradually they became part of the formal peace process, ready to hear genuine apologies, to forgive and work for reconciliation and peace together.
In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech in December, on behalf of the Colombian people, President Santos pays tribute to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, as well as fellow Peace prize recipient Malala and the profound belief in change through education, and Nobel Literature prize recipient Bob Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind”. “How many deaths does it take…?” In Colombia’s case, 220,000 deaths and 8 million displaced.
Santos declares that based on our common humanity and transforming reality through education it is possible to imagine a different way of living and to create possibility from what was once thought to be an impossibility. If this is so for Colombia, so too for Syria, South Sudan and others. “Perhaps more than ever before, we can now dare to imagine a world without war…”
Perhaps we might also strike up conversations with others in ordinary moments on the bus, on the street, in the workplace, in the home, to dissolve differences and build bridges of peace, to find our common humanity, one by one, with patience and persistence.
"Juan Manuel Santos - Nobel Lecture: Peace in Colombia: From the Impossible to the Possible".Nobelprize.org.Nobel Media AB 2014. Web. 1 Jan 2017. http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2016/santos-lecture_en.html
BBC World Service, 2017, The Inquiry: What went right in 2016? 1 January, http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04ks9qk
Twin Towers from ferry to Ellis Island (Immigration Museum- former immigrant processing centre), New York November 1998.
On the 11 September 2001, my husband and I were just settling into a high school in the south of Guangdong province, PR China. The new academic year had just commenced, and we were joined by two young male teachers from USA. Our living quarters were fairly sparse and we had given up on television. We were listening to the radio when we first heard alarming breaking news coming from New York. We rushed next door to our young American teacher's apartment. His TV was working. We sat gob-smacked thinking what a terrible accident that a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Centre's twin towers.
When we saw the second plane crash into the second tower, we knew it was no accident. Watching the drama unfold - CNN's windows faced onto the WTC - was a numbing and dumbfounding experience. When the third plane crashed into the Pentagon and the fourth into a field in Pennsylvania, the world held its collective breath. We knew that the world had irrevocably changed and a dark shadow loomed large.
It took some time for our Chinese colleagues to realise that this was not a fake. It was not a movie about the apocalypse. It was very horribly real and it has impacted all of us. It is not a clearcut ús versus them (the axis of evil -Iran, Iraq, North Korea), but the world seems to have become even more treacherous and barbaric.
With attacks on Iraq, then Afghanistan, even more terror in the form of ISIL (Daesh) is being unleashed in concerted attacks and by 'lone wolves' against Muslims and non-Muslims. Muslims are attacked and killed in greater numbers, but this doesn't get as much media attention as when non-Muslims are killed.
9-11 is now embedded in our collective memory - where were you on 9-11 - for those of us born last century -it will remain as darkly clear as the day Diana died; and the deaths of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, and the first steps of Neil Armstrong on the moon. Are our journeys into space an attempt to escape from the mess we have made of things on Earth?
Rather than turn our backs on the world, what if we were to reach out to another, with a kind word, a smile, a gentle touch?
What if we sat down together and listened to each other's stories?
What if we put down our technology-enhanced gadgets and learned to communicate with each other again...to trust, to laugh, perhaps to love compassionately?
We could be fearless heroes on a personal quest: a film, a book and a death
This is the year of reading memoirs for me. Personal real-life stories are inspirational.
I finished 2015 reading Tim Winton’s Island: A memoir, followed by the former Irish President Mary Robinson’s Everybody Matters. Tim Winton always knew he wanted to be a writer, but Mary had planned to become a Catholic nun, following in her aunts’ footsteps. She became President of Ireland. Every path is personal and I am curious to find why and how we take the paths we do. [See blog 15 December]
ECO-WARRIORS ON A QUEST
When I read Stephen Romei’s [the Australian 9-10 January] review of Point Break, I wanted to see the movie for the theme of the heroic quest. It is a remake of a 1991 movie starring Keanu Reeves and appears to have cult status for many an eco-warrior, even though Romei doesn’t think much of the original. In the movie remake, there are many action shots of muscular, supremely fit, heavily tattooed men committing Robin Hood acts, stealing from the very rich to give to the poor, and spectacular acts of daring in raw Mother Nature. It is recommended not to follow their audacious surfing, trailbike riding, rock climbing, skydiving feats. Even if you know not fear, death will surely claim you before you complete the full eight requirements of the quest.
I have just finished reading Rory Stewart’s Occupational Hazards (Picador, 2006), a memoir of his time as a deputy governate coordinator in southern Iraq following the fall of Saddam Hussein. The blurb says that he then set up the Turquoise Mountain Foundation in Kabul and was its Director.
Rory who? What is he doing now? That is even more stunning. He has been a Professor at Harvard, and then returned to the UK, where he has been the Tory Member of Parliament for Cumbria since 2010. He is currently the Minister for the Environment and Rural Affairs. See http://www.rorystewart.co.uk. Before his role in Iraq, Rory walked 6000 miles across Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal. This journey is commemorated in his first book: The Places In Between. He had previously been with the British Foreign Service in Indonesia and Montenegro, Serbia, following a stint in the army Black Watch regiment, a tutor during summer for Princes Harry and William and a graduate of Oxford (Arts-Philosophy/Politics) and Eton. It has been suggested that Rory Stewart will be a future British Prime Minister. He is one to watch. Fearless, intellectual, adventurous.
Incidentally, Rory’s birthday is 3 January. Happy birthday!
CREATIVE INNOVATION QUEST
Another adventurous innovator in the field of music, David Bowie, turned 69 on 8 January, released a final farewell record ‘Dark Star’ and died of liver cancer two days later. A highly gifted and strong willed child, David Bowie, changed his family name from Jones to avoid confusion with Davy Jones of the Monkees. His first foray into bands and song writing was met with limited success. Trained in theatre and mime, he added these aspects to his act and took on the persona of Ziggy Stardust. This brought fame, but nearly pushed him over the edge, and into oblivion in the early seventies. David Bowie cleaned up his act. His life has been a series of reinventions, dazzling the world with his colourful innovation. His legacy as one of the most outstanding and enduring performers for five decades will long be remembered.
LOCAL QUESTS FOR LOCAL HEROES
These acts are hard ones to follow. Our personal circumstances constrain how we might live. Most of us have to be content with our local community, and aspire to be local heroes within and for that community. We can reinvent ourselves in our local space. Check out the nominees and past winners for the Australian of the Year Local heroes category: http://www.australianoftheyear.org.au/the-awards/award-categories/australias-local-hero.
Define your quest and go for it, even in your own backyard.That's more than good enough - that's great! We can do it together! Best wishes to all you heroes for 2016!
Do you see Christmas as a time to buy a special book? To take time out to read for leisure?
To reflect on the year past and plan for the year ahead?
Is your new diary jam-packed with commitments, or is it a blank canvas, waiting for your special touch?
My Christmas books arrived at the beginning of the month. I couldn’t wait until Christmas. I have devoured them cover to cover. The cover of the first book depicts the place where most Australians want to be between Christmas and New Year – a long expanse of sand licked clean by a vast ocean.
Australia – our island home, the making of one of our best contemporary writers and champion for the environment
Tim Winton’s Island Home: A landscape memoir (Hamish Hamilton, an imprint of Penguin Random House, 2015) is mostly filled with precious memory of places along Western Australia’s stretched coastline. Even if we have never been there, Tim walks us through with a clear vision, always passionate about his engagement with what is in front of, and around, him.
Interspersed in these deep-rooted experiences of place are reflective essays that draw the shapes of influence on Tim. Even at high school, Tim thought of himself as a writer.
He enrolled in Australia’s first degree offered in creative writing at WAIT (Western Australia Institute of Technology, now Curtin University).
Tim wanted to be ‘a player, a practitioner’, to write, not to teach or to be a critic. He learned that to be a writer, you also need to learn ‘by watching and listening and remembering and wondering’, as well as by reading.
He didn’t set out to be an ecowarrior, but as he observed the environmental changes wrought by industry, developers and increasing population, he stepped up to be a champion for the environment.
The opening chapter recalls a year away from Australia in Paris and in Ireland. In the middle of a freezing hailstorm, Tim knew why he had a sense of restlessness and agitation. It was time to come home to the wild spaces of Australia. This is a feeling resonating in many expats. While immersed in the excitement of exploring distant shores and making a new life, we ‘still call Australia home’(Lyrics by Peter Allen).
A matter of spirit, connecting to Ireland. Mary Robinson, champion for human rights and climate justice
For many, Ireland also represents our spiritual home.
The home of ancestors, sent as convicts, brides, or the poor escaping the Great Potato famine of the 1840s, seeking a better life in the New World.
In Dublin, Ireland, in Áras an Uachtaráin, (the President’s House), Mary Robinson placed a light in the kitchen window for the Irish Diaspora all over the world.
Everybody Matters (Hodder & Stoughton 2012), co-written with her daughter Tessa Robinson, is a startling memoir. Mary dreamed of becoming a nun. She did not dream of becoming Ireland’s first woman President. Her focus has always been on human rights, first as a lawyer, than as a Senator for twenty years.
Just as she thought she had the right balance of law and teaching and home life, Mary was invited to stand for election as President. During her term of office from 1990-1997, Mary shook up the staid conservatism of this role.
Gaining international recognition, she was invited to apply for the role of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Now a Global Elder, Mary heads up the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice! See http://www.mrfcj.org/about/mission-and-vision
Through focusing on what was in front of her and transforming expectations, attitudes and behaviour, opportunities opened up.
Tim always knew he wanted to write; Mary’s path opened up as she evolved, constantly maintaining her deep faith and concern for human rights, but refusing to be cowed by dogma and conservative tradition.
Instead of being anxious to find your ‘life’s purpose’, pay attention to your passion, your raised levels of energy, when you are at your best... and follow your own path less travelled.
Be. Then do. Patiently, persistently, and purpose will find you.
Happy reading, reflecting, and best wishes for the New Year!
Twelve years ago on the resumption of classes in China after the Spring Festival holiday break I would ask my students about their holiday. Most would go home, and home was somewhere in the same province. ‘I slept late; I ate; I watched TV or movies’ were common responses.
Now, the response is very different. In one week I received emails from two students. 'Dr Fleur, I just want to share with you. I am your student, now studying in Queensland, and I have just visited your home state of Tasmania for six days. Here are some pictures so you will feel less homesick when you are in China.' Eight pictures were attached.
A freshman student wrote: 'Dr Fleur, how are you? I just want to share my achievement. I climbed to the summit of a 5,000 metre snow mountain in Sichuan. I had some trouble with the altitude- breathing and headache, but I am so happy to achieve this.' Anthony attached six photos of the spectacular snowscape, and the proud moment at the summit.
These emails are indicators of the dramatic changes sweeping China. In the fifteen years since I have been teaching in China, I have observed both education, technology and tourism trends. I had noticed a subtle shift between 2000 and 2005. But in the last decade, that subtle shift has become a wide unstoppable river. From the mountains to the sea, and beyond China’s borders, Chinese are on the move.
Travel trends in China
Twelve years ago, Chinese still had many restrictions placed on their leisure travel abroad. Only 29 countries had ‘Approved Destination Status’ (ADS), which meant designated agency organised tours for groups of five or more mainland Chinese. In order to reduce the risk of overstaying visas, missing group members and human trafficking, travellers often had to pay a ‘bond’ of up to US$6,000 and surrender their passport to the agency and confirm their return to China within one week.
Because of fierce competition for the Chinese market, travel agencies would heavily discount costs, promoting ‘zero fees’, but aim to recoup losses by including compulsory shopping tours with commissions for the tour leaders. Many Chinese resigned themselves to this fact of travel, but resistance to pressure tactics and a maturing market has meant that agencies have to be more sophisticated to deal with the growing demand for independent and individual tastes of a new educated élite. By 2005 the number of countries approved for Chinese leisure travel had expanded to ninety countries.
In a survey I conducted that year on overseas travel with students of the new University of Nottingham Ningbo campus, just two percent responded that they had travelled outside of China, and mostly to nearby Asian destinations, such as Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and Malaysia. If they did travel to Europe it was a short, but intensive and exhausting trip, such as ‘five countries in ten days’. I am sure if I did a similar survey today, that percentage would be considerably higher. Chinese have much greater freedom to travel abroad now, without the need to pay hefty deposits as a guarantee of return and will resist ‘shopping tours’. My long term Chinese friend travelled in a family group with his son and daughter-in-law to Hawaii last year, and to Sabah, Malaysia the previous year. They are part of the more than 100 million international trips in 2014 made by Chinese, who are now the world’s biggest overseas spenders at US$208 billion, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.
The surge in outbound travel can be shown in travel statistics from China to Indonesia. The first organised leisure tours from China to Indonesia only commenced in March 2002. Indonesian travel statistics for that year indicated that there were just over 3,600 visitors combined from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. By 2014, the China market grew to be the second largest behind Australia, with 387,533 arrivals, a 25 per cent increase on the previous year, reported by Bali Update. The biggest challenge now for Indonesian travel agencies is to combine specialist in-depth local knowledge with fluency in Mandarin language skills.
Last Spring Festival, five freshmen boys travelled independently to experience the Snow Festival in Sapporo, Japan. Last summer, one of my second year girls went as a volunteer teacher to Kenya with an international student association; another went independently to Thailand to work on an organic farm, whilst another had a one semester work experience in Disneyworld Florida, and another was on a student exchange program in Germany and travelled to several nearby countries. Students approach me for references to support their applications for study in Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada, France, Spain, Germany, United Kingdom, Australia and the USA. These students are hard-working, talented and have such a drive and optimistic attitude. I am privileged to support them to achieve their dreams. With increasing opportunities for intercultural exchanges within China, changes in government policy, relaxed travel rules, easier visa accessibility, and increasing disposable incomes, the desire for exploring beyond the local neighbourhood is able to be realised.
Education trends in China
Reflecting on changes in education in China, a number of trends can be identified. Since the open and reform policies of 1978 until the end of 2013, more than three million Chinese students have studied overseas. More than one million are currently overseas, and the return to China rate is about 73 percent, according to a report by the Jiangsu Education Department. Within China, the number of students enrolled in higher education has increased dramatically. In 2003, one in three persons between the age of 19-23 years was enrolled in higher education; that ratio has increased to two in three, according to UNESCO statistics.
In the last decade and a half, the number of foreign students studying in China has also steadily increased. In 2013, there was an 8.5% increase on the previous year, and 356,500 foreign students from 200 countries were studying in a wide range of institutions across 31 provinces, cities and autonomous regions.
The rapid expansion of higher education places since the late 1990s and choice of both Chinese- state and private institutions and foreign university presences, commencing with the University of Nottingham, Ningbo China campus in 2004, the 1+1 model Xi’an Jiatong-Liverpool University in Suzhou and the 1+N model Sino-British College in Shanghai, the new American campuses in China as well as many offshore programs offered in partner colleges and universities, will push change in education models and a shift from teacher and exam-centric models to student-centric and flexible modes of delivery in this new phase of internationalisation.
The successful conduct of two mega-events, namely the Beijing Summer Olympics in 2008 and the six-month long 2010 Shanghai Expo, promoted the new China to the world, with detailed attention to security and safety, superb athletic and cultural performances, and ability to be welcoming and warm hosts. Students who volunteered during these events told of long periods of training and strict discipline, but the rewards in individual and national pride were enormous. Citizens of Beijing and Shanghai also benefited, not only from the cultural exchanges, but also from the vastly improved infrastructure and services. The success attracts more people to China for travel, education and business and inspires confidence in local people to have bigger dreams.
Combined trends driving a learning revolution
The rapid expansion of infrastructure, technology and services and the ability of Chinese to travel, and their desire and value for higher education, supported by government policy and big dreams drive a new sense of optimism and prosperity that is within reach of ever growing numbers. My hopes and dreams for the new China are that this prosperity enables a more equitable distribution of wealth, with socially inclusive policies and improved services and opportunities right across China.
In the first class of each semester, I ask students to complete a short questionnaire. Each class has about 40-50 students. I find now that about half the class come from other provinces, and less than a handful are from the city where the campus is located (Zhuhai). The others come from many other parts of Guangdong and Hong Kong (a 70 minute ferry ride from Zhuhai). I also find that there is a small sprinkling of international students – Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Spain, USA. It’s a far cry from single province, mainland Chinese only students in a class of twelve years ago.
Twelve years ago few students had mobile phones or laptops. They relied on desktop computers with plug-in connections. Most of their assignments were handwritten. Now most students have up-to-date laptops and smart-phones. It is accepted that their assignments will be computer generated. The mobile phone innovations, wireless technology, credit card and internet accessibility, widespread popularity of wechat, weibo and on-line communities and ease of sharing have fuelled changes in both travel and education. Students now can access MOOC (Mass open on-line courses). Outside the traditional teacher-led classes, students are creating their own learning revolutions.
They demonstrate confidence to have their own dreams and ability to realise them within the collective Chinese Dream envisioned by President Xi Jinping, considered internationally and domestically as one of the best contemporary political leaders. Against the backdrop of social stability, progressive reforms, and technology, travel and education seismic shifts, China holds much promise for a bright future.
Confident, ‘can-do’ students from Sun Yat-sen University; studying at the University of Queensland 2015-2016.
Between 2000-2015, the author lived in Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Henan as well as Guangdong province.
Our daily pace of life sometimes seems too fast, too urgent, and we often leave behind things from yesteryear. Remembrance Day, 11 November, reminds us of the importance of the past.
Recently I picked up an old business card of mine from the 1990s and I still liked the logo, and the tagline: integrating personal and corporate growth. At that time I had left a safe corporate HRM job where I had hit the glass ceiling and was freelancing. It was just before the explosion of internet connectivity. After a couple of years of freelancing, I went back to university and explored a whole new path of Philosophy / Peace Studies followed by a PhD in tourism, development and sustainability. As a teacher crossing disciplines, I taught tourism and events management, management and organisational behaviour, research and writing skills.
I continued my passion to support people to be the best person that they can be. At all levels of an organisation.
From students on work experience to entry level employees to the CEO and Boardroom.
A hot topic of discussion for business today is ‘innovation’. To invent. To give a new lease of life. To discover. To pioneer. To revolutionise. (From Roget’s Thesaurus).
More commonly used in relation to science and technology, now our Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull is urging Australians:
“We have to work more agilely, more innovatively, we have to be more nimble in the way we seize the enormous opportunities that are presented to us. We’re not seeking to proof ourselves against the future. We are seeking to embrace it,” as reported by David Uren in the Australian Business Review, 24 September 2015. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/opinion/fostering-innovation-at-heart-of-malcolm-turnbulls-economic-policy/story-e6frg9qo-1227540992168.
What does it mean for us to work ‘more innovatively’? And more ‘collaboratively’?
What is often overlooked in the new technological 24/7 connectivity workplace are the ‘soft personal skills’, building relationships of trust before working together.
And changing the concept of leaders as an élite group with control over others to ‘everyone is a leader’.
Enhancing personal leadership skills to enable greater articulation of values, strengths and goals that are aligned with organisational values, strengths and goals is the critical task for now – in order to work across disciplinary boundaries and to engage in truly collaborative teams where trust, compassion and capability can lead to synergy and innovative quantum leaps in outcomes.
As a former HR practitioner, and teacher of contemporary theory and practice relating to Organisational Behaviour and Management, my focus is on ‘soft skills’, in order to create reflective and engaging workplaces that integrate personal and organisational growth.
There are many issues facing workplaces in a time of greater complexity, volatility and rapid change. And in a crowded chaotic marketplace of offerings, it can be overwhelming to choose personal and professional development programs that are specifically relevant for your particular workplace.
We all face CHALLENGES that impact on our physical and emotional HEALTH, and the health of our organisations.
We can take ACTION to lead us to OPPORTUNITIES and SUCCESS.
Next time I will introduce the CHAOS dynamic processes as an innovative way to unlock and overcome obstacles for personal and organisational change and growth.
It springs from the fertile middle ground between senior executive leaders and junior entry-level staff. And it will give a new lease of life to my old logo and values. Watch this space.
In the meanwhile, what do you see as the biggest challenges for your organisation, or for yourself in terms of your personal growth? If you had one wish for action to overcome this challenge what might it be?
As a gentle provocateur of positive change,