Friday, 29 February 2008
When I got to the campus there were already people waiting around. I didn't recognise anyone as they were all first years, and as far as I could see, mostly girls! I just ended up talking to Mimi, this 2nd year pharmacy student who is one of the exec's of the APSA (Auckland Pharmacy Students Association) who were running the camp. I had already met her on the day of my pharmacy interview so at least I sorta knew her! She then introduced me to this other girl who was a 2nd year pharmacy student. Eventually our group got bigger and the guys all got round together to talk for a bit.
All in all, there were only about eight guys out of roughly forty students who went on camp, with only about four of us being 2nd year students! Also, the majority of students were Asian as well!
We got to Clarks Beach Holiday Park by bus, and I mean posh fancy bus with air conditioning, footrests and curtains!! I sat next to this guy called Michael and got to know him during the ride.
Once we got there, we had to find a cabin to be in, and we were told there had to be a few guys in each cabin, but most of the cabins were full so five of us guys ended up taking the last cabin with five other girls. That's when Cabin E was formed!
We ate our own prepared lunch before getting into activity groups to play some team-building and getting to know you games. I was put in Group A, which was soon renamed as 'Jay Jay Shorties' (J & J = Jack and Judy, the execs looking after us, and Shorty, the nickname of this girl Tanya who is pretty short). We were so confident in the untangle your arms game that we challenged all the other groups to beat us! They actually did and we were left as the last team who couldn't even complete the task! We then went down to the lower field to do three-legged races and play games of soccer against each other. I ran together with the exec Jack in the three-legged race, but we came last after we couldn't get our steps co-ordinated!
Soccer was more interesting though. We had to take our shoes off which wasn't so great though. The game was going all right for a while till the goalkeeper threw the ball to one of the girls and I came charging to intercept it but kicked her in the shin and she went down injured! She had to limp off the field with a big bruise on her leg while I was apologising profusely! Hopefully she knew it was an accident! Well I soon subbed myself off with guilt weighing me down, but we went on to win the game 1-0! The other two teams faced off against each other. There was supposed to be a final sometime soon but that never eventuated.
We now had free time and so I jumped in the pool with a few others and we played a bit of Marco Polo before we got too cold and jumped out. We played a bit of snap before people wanted to play something a bit more fun like this game involving spoons. It's supposed to be a drinking game but no one had any alcohol on them at the time.
I went for a shower which required one token=5 minutes. The tokens were actually just those old 20c coins. I was having my shower when I dropped my soap and it slid all the way across the shower cubicles, so I had to finish my shower before walking over to the other shower, bend over and reach for my soap!
Our group Jay Jay Shorties had to prepare dinner that night and so we went to the kitchen to prepare the barbecue. I have to admit I didn't do a lot of work, as these two girls Kristine and Diane came over to me and started talking to me! Kristine used to go to the same intermediate school as me! I didn't notice at first till her friend pointed it out to me. I felt a little bad for not helping out so I regularly offered my services, and soon found a job in guarding the food from flies! ;) I sat at this table with these other girls and a few guys for dinner. It was so unstable that when someone sat down or got up, the other side would go up or down accordingly! So it was a little fun. We had a little fun jumping up and down on the seats! Another Calum moment was when someone asked me to pass the tomato sauce to them, I grabbed the bottle, but because it was covered in sauce it slipped out of my grasp and I spilled some on the table!
After dessert we had to get dressed in our worst clothes, for we were going on a Burma trail! We were blind-folded and told to follow this rope which took us around buildings, past tables, through bushes and right underneath the cabins, where you could hear people walking above! Throughout this time as well the execs were chucking and squirting stuff at us! It was all part of becoming a pharmacy student...apparently! By the time we got to the end of the trail and were allowed to lift our blindfolds, it was completely dark! An hour (which surely didn't feel like it) had passed!
Most of the people went into their cabins and prepared for bed, with some going to sleep as early as 8pm! I ended up sitting outside with a few people, Ruby, Lisa, Lucy Michelle and Michael just talking for a while before it was just down to Lisa, Michelle and me until some of the execs came out and we just talked about pharmacy and where we would be ending up. It got cold and late soon so we all went off to bed.
The next morning I got up, had a shower and joined the group of people I had dinner with the day before for breakfast, which was just the typical cereal or toast. We were to have free time till midday, so the guys wanted to go down to the soccer field once again for a game of soccer. This time it was 1st/2nd years vs the 3rd/4th years! We were leading at first, thanks to a deflection off one of the 4th year girls standing near the goal. I stayed back as I was a bit weary of injuring anyone else! Unfortunately the 3rd/4th years went on to score two goals (including one that just nipped me!!) and win the game 2-1.
Quite a few of us then spent a bit of time in the TV/games room where people played pool, table tennis, read magazines or just watched TV. I didn't really do much there but watch.
It was now lunchtime and so we went back down for it. The pharmacy course co-ordinator Sanya Ram was there to introduce herself and tell us a little about herself. Once she finished and sat down she saw me and told me she recognised me from a few weeks ago when I went in to see her about my timetable! We had burgers for lunch and I was sitting at this table all squashed up with these other girls. One of the girls Lucy thought her chicken pattie (is that what it's called?) was undercooked and that got me scared for a little while! I haven't had to vomit any time soon though so mine must've been cooked properly then!
After lunch our group Jay Jay Shorties were to do kayaking first so we went down to the nearby lake, did a quick lesson on how to paddle before jumping in and kayaking around the area. Most of the people just went around in a big circle, while a couple of the execs got stuck in the bushes in the lake (I'm sure there's a word for this...my brain's just blocked!). The guy taking us kayaking got the guys to do a short race where we had to kayak to one of the trees to the right side of the lake before kayaking to the other side of the lake to grab a leaf from the other tree. I was coming third out of four at the start, but after one guy got caught and started going around in circles, I managed to jump into second place just behind another guy. He got stuck in the bushes though and so I managed to win!
That's when the guy told us to have a race backwards! We were too tired so us guys just held our kayaks together and relaxed. We did a few activities like climbing across kayaks and changing the order of the kayaks before we finished. When I got out of the kayak my skin was peeling and stinging a little. I went straight to put some sunblock on!
Our next activity was archery. We went into this classroom to do archery where four of us fired arrows at a time. When it was my turn I aimed at this target that was loosely stuck to the wall. I shot an arrow at it, and the whole target fell right off the wall! Yeah I wasn't too good at archery, but this girl was and because she did the best, she went into the finals.
After kayaking we walked along to the mini-golf course where we played a bit of mini-golf. It was a bit run down with some of the fake grass material peeling which blocked some of the shots. There was a shortage of golf clubs too so I shared with Himesh. I'm not too sure who won but it probably wasn't me!
Once we had finished, we went back up to the cabins before the guys wanted to play a bit of soccer, so we went back down for another game of soccer. This time it was mixed teams. Our team only had three while the other team had four members. We were leading for most of the beginning before Ahmed, the president of the APSA joined the other team and they started winning! It was soon 9-7 but we had to go back up soon, so it was golden goal time. Whoever scored the next goal would win the game! Well guess what? We scored the next goal!!
Dinner this time round was Spaghetti with some toppings and mince. It tasted really good! Michael, this other 2nd year student couldn't find his fork so he ate most of his dinner and dessert with chopsticks. Wow is he skilled!!
After dinner most of us guys took a shower. This was when I put in a token, but the shower wouldn't turn on! I had to quickly dress myself and go back to the cabin to grab my spare token, run back and take the shower! By the time I had finished, the others were already starting to get dressed in their costumes for the party that night. Himesh and Yerin from our cabin dressed up as a pirate while this girl Eliza dressed up as a ninja, Liam dressed up as Legolas from the Lord of the Rings (he really suits it!), Ruby as Little Red Riding Hood, Michael as a cross between Bruce Lee and Michael Jordon, Lisa as Snow White, Kristine and Diane as super models, Dickson as Harry Potter, Hannah as Juno, and me....well I was a road worker - you know one of those road workers you usually see in the background of movies? Yeap that's me! I was fretting the night before camp because I couldn't find anything to dress up as, so I just reused my road worker costume for the movie character dress up party. I got a few people calling out to me asking me what I was supposed to be!
The party started off with a quiz. We got into groups. Our group was called Bash, the nickname of our one of our cabin members as our group was made of Cabin E members! We did pretty well in the quiz and would've won had the execs listened to our answers and given us the right amount of points! Boy was it noisy! Different groups were trying to call out at the same time which was driving the execs insane as they couldn't hear! A few had already started drinking so that could explain things. There was also a noise limit for late at night at the holiday park so we had to try keep it down. Anyway the other team won and we came a close second. A couple of the APSA execs got chucked in the pool by their fellow members. I also got tapped by one of them during the quiz who warned me to be prepared as I was going to get chucked in too!
In the middle of the quiz, a couple of the other APSA guys who were sorta acting as the bouncers called out saying I was making too much noise, lifted me up and were about to chuck me in the pool! That's when I asked if we could just pose for a photo (of course!) then I got chucked in! Boy was it cold!! Fortunately I emptied my pockets as soon as I was warned! I quickly ran to the cabin to get changed. I was also starting to run out of clothes!
When I got back the tables were moved to the side and it was time to dance! A bit of a shame that the speakers were so quiet though! That didn't stop some from dancing and singing really loud! Diane was quite a dancer and a few of the girls got on tables and started dancing!
As soon as it hit 10pm, sorta a curfew at the park, we had to stop the party and return to the cabins where we could continue drinking if we wanted. Most of my cabin group wanted to go for a walk down to the lower park though so we walked all the way down the driveway to the playground and played there for a while before the rest of the people came spilling onto the lower field. We rejoined them to play a few drinking games. I was drinking water of course though! One girl, Lisa, drank quite a lot though and so she was quite tipsy!
When it started getting cold and more and more people needed to go back up to go to the toilet, the rest of the people at the park decided to go up as well. When I got back up to the cabins I joined a group sitting outside our cabin playing spin the bottle. That's when a few truths were revealed...which I won't disclose here! One of the execs chose dare though and ended up getting make-up put on him by one of the girls! In return though, he got to try put make-up on the girl when it was her turn!
We soon had to go back into our cabins, and so our cabin group went inside and just kept on talking since none of them were tired yet, except for Caroline who had already gone to sleep! They talked for a while before it was time to call it a night at 3am!
I woke up early to go for a shower and this time it worked!! When I got back the rest of the people in the cabin had woken up and we all packed our bags before going for breakfast earlier than everyone else. We all sat together this time, and left together to hang out in our cabin for a while. We completed packing and cleaned the floors and then sat around talking and sharing contacts. After an hour, we were called outside where everyone sat on the deck while the execs made some presentations. There was the drunk in denial award (not exactly what it's called!) which went to this girl Lisa, the best dressed guy at the party award to Liam who dressed as Legolas, the best dressed girl at the party went to Eliza who dressed as a ninja, the funny guy award went to Himesh, the up-and-coming photographer award went to me, the tidiest cabin award went to the one and only Cabin E(!!!!) and then the top awards the most pleasant guy award went to Dickson while the most pleasant girl went to Eliza!
We had to wait a while before the bus finally arrived. Our cabin group sat in adjacent rows with me sitting next to this girl Hannah who was in our cabin. I talked to her for a while before we joined the group. The bus ride didn't seem to last long and soon we found ourselves back at Grafton! After unloading the bus, we shared contacts with others, said our goodbyes, and that was the end of Pharmacy Freshers Camp 2008!
Wednesday, 27 February 2008
The night before I had youth group where we had this mini scavenger hunt around inside the building (slightly adjusted due to the weather). We split into teams and went around looking for the each clue left in different places. There was a full glass of water sitting on top of one of our clues and I accidentally knocked it over and spilled it all over the table! Someone also stole one of our clues which meant we couldn't complete the hunt and we ended up losing!
I did have my first recorder classes on Saturday morning though which were a bit nerve-wracking at first. See, it's not just students who are nervous on the first day of class! This year I have a class half an hour earlier than last year at 8.30am, which is quite early for me! I tried getting there earlier only to find the main gate still closed with a bench which looked as though it had been ripped out of the ground leaning up against it. Because it was raining heavily and I still haven't been issued a key for my classroom I had to teach my student in the foyer of another classroom till the music school supervisor came! My second class was a mix of some old students and some new students who turn out to be from my church! I didn't actually teach them anything because I didn't know what level they were at, but I've promised them I will officially start teaching them this Saturday!
Saturday, 23 February 2008
Friday, 22 February 2008
This Saturday sees the start of the new year for recorder classes. I don't have many students this year, actually numbers have remained the same as last year, only that the number of students that I have lost has been replaced by the number of new students! One of them goes to my church and asked me a couple weeks ago if I was a recorder teacher. It turns out he really is going to be my student this year, so I better make sure I teach him well or else I'll get a bad reputation around church! The worst part of the year is the beginning of the year when I have to ring up all the parents of students to try sort out class times. I'm not sure who I'm supposed to ask for, just in case it is in fact one of my student's parents answering and I ask for their parents!
This weekend is the Lantern Festival too. I initially offered to help the Kiwi Asian Club with their food stall this year but because their get-togethers to make dumplings happened to be on a Saturday, one of the worst days for me, I haven't been able to help out and I won't have much spare time to help sell food for them at their stall this weekend either so I'm feeling a bit of a let down right now! haha
After offering to help out with the Dessert Club at the club's AGM last year and not hearing from them for quite a while, I was asked last week if I was still keen to help out, so I'll be getting a bit more involved with them this year!
Speaking of Lantern Festival though, I'll be going for a short time while on Saturday to watch my friend's violin performance before heading off to the Sky City Starlight Symphony at the Auckland Domain. I'll probably go for the whole night on Sunday though.
We got a complimentary NZ Herald in the mail that came with a programme for the concert, and the closest anything being performed gets to being contemporary is music from The Lord of the Rings! Kiri Te Kanawa looks set to feature quite a bit in this year's show.
By the way, everyone put in your diaries Richard Chen, this really cool guy who plays the violin extremely, extremely well is set to perform at the Lantern Festival on Saturday night at about 5.45-6pm on the Main Stage, so DON'T MISS IT!!! I certainly won't be! Health Science represent!! (Even though I'm not a pharmacy student I'll always be a Health Science student deep down inside!)
From Monday to Wednesday I've got pharmacy camp and apparently we're to have this dress-up party thing on Tuesday night, where we have to dress up as our favourite movie character. I can't seem to think of anyone/any thing to dress up yet, although one person has suggested Spongebob Squarepants. Hmmm I guess I could bring a piece of sponge. Any suggestions would be welcome though!
In completely different news (which I found extremely amusing!), on Thursday morning while driving into a drive thru at McDonald's, this lady in South Auckland misjudged the bend and drove into parts of the complex!. love the last sentence of the news report -
"The woman and her two passengers decided not to order breakfast."
Yeah I don't think you'd be in a mood for it after having something like that happen would you? Especially since it was the company car she was driving!
Wednesday, 20 February 2008
Anyway I got back home with my dad on my back, trying to get me to somehow figure out where I was supposed to perform. I was about to give up and just hope the guy would ring me the next day after waiting a few minutes for me. He went one better though, he rang me last night to confirm details! Thanks sir!!! It turns out the retirement home I had a feeling it would be in turned out to be the one!
So I spent all of last night and this morning frantically trying to practise all these pieces, hoping I would be able to fill up half an hour. That's when my wrist started straining! I was starting to wonder whether I should pull out at the last minute due to an injury, but I decided not to and instead fulfilled my obligation to play that half hour of music!
The audience wasn't as bad as I had expected! At other rest homes the audience is usually sleeping or dribbling, but this one was active! They started dancing and clapping to my music and trying to sing to some of the pieces (despite my music having all these modified bits!!). I made a few screw-ups here and there, like during my rendition of Figaro by Rossini where it goes
I tried to do a gliss which is where you run your fingers up the keyboard to the note you want to get to, but instead my hand slipped off the keyboard! I just looked at a few of the ladies who noticed and smiled at them who sorta laughed back. I also announced the wrong name for a piece I was going to play, but fortunately corrected myself before confusing anyone.
The half hour sure went by fast! It certainly didn't feel that long!
Monday, 18 February 2008
- Mac Air ad with the song 'New Soul' by Yael Naim
- TV2 ad with the song 'Aire of Good Feeling' by Quincy Conserve
- and now the State Insurance ad with the song 'Walk in the Park' by Oh No! Oh My!
Funnily enough, while the song in the State Insurance ad may sound all happy and rosy, the part they leave out of the ad towards the ad gets dark and contains the lyrics
Don't you just love the lyrics to that song:
"Nice day for a drive-by shooting"
I never knew a happy song could have such dark lyrics!
I got there with my dad and we were one of a few there. I was told I'd be number four, so I just sat there waiting anxiously, listening to National Radio in the car while my dad talked to some guy from Burma. When the testing officer came over it was finally my turn! She checked the car, got in and then we were off!
Things were going all right as the roads were clear this early in the morning. I could change lanes easily and she hadn't asked me to do any three-point turns or reverse into any driveways which was good, because I am terrible at it! I was driving down this straight road when there was this sudden BANG on the side of the car! I didn't see anything on the roads but I started worrying that the lady would think that I wasn't watching where I was driving and so I started to lose confidence and over-turn the corners! There was just the motorway to go before I had to return to the park to finish the test.
I got back safely in one piece and managed to avoid the testing officer stopping the test before it had even finished. She told me I did some nice driving but I turned too widely around corners. Despite that I still passed, so if there's one thing I've accomplished these holidays, it's that I'm now a restricted driver!
A bonus is we also caught up with this old Chinese teacher of ours who happened to be jogging around in that park at the time.
Later that morning we went to church and had Sunday School which was cool as it was the first time we were all together again. Jennifer was back from Hong Kong after having spent the holidays there. She went to several Disneylands!! We spent the entire class time sharing holiday stories, but I'm sure we'll have to start learning next week!
Saturday, 16 February 2008
So if anyone wants to stalk me peacefully with good intentions ;) here's my timetable.
We went to this careers expo at the ASB Showgrounds today, not knowing what to expect and how it would compare to the Coke Careers Expo. Now that I'm studying pharmacy it wasn't of as much importance to me as it would have been last year, but we thought we'd go so that Hamish could have a look around for more information.
What was good about this expo was that there weren't school kids running all around the place, in fact it wasn't that crowded! This is probably the reason why most stands had free giveaways such as pens, lollies and other things! We even got this free car seat cover from the Super Cheap Autos stand!
We seemed to be some of the youngest people wandering around, so whenever we came to a stand and the people at the stand came to talk to us, they would ask us if we were still at school!
After a couple hours we were about to leave the showgrounds when this other guy redirected us to this other expo in the other building - an investment expo! We walked in there and felt completely out of place as there were all these professionals in suits with displays and charts and things we couldn't understand! We quickly got in, got out and left.
We had dinner at Esther and Julia's house later tonight, with a few of her other 'best' students, Janet, Gannin, and a couple of others who I didn't know. We all had a bit of food and chat which was cool. Julia is going to Avondale College this year instead of Rutherford, but we won't hold that against her!
I've been doing more and more driving practice in the past few days because I really need it, but I can never seem to get anyone to take me driving! Having driving lessons with the driving instructor is freaky as she's always telling me off for driving around corners too fast! Who needs to drive anyway? I can just walk! But I'm not one to give up (most of the time), I will get the hang of this one day!
So what did I do on Valentine's Day? Watch a bit of TV - Dr Phil, Oprah, Hannah Montana, and wash the dishes. Ho hum! Not as exciting as what all you taken kids would be doing I bet, but oh well! Nothing wrong with being single! Hope the rest of you single people had a great Singles Awareness Day though!
Thursday, 14 February 2008
Black Day (14 April) - An informal tradition in South Korea for those who are single to get together and eat Korean noodles with black and white bean sauce
Singles Day or Guang Gun Jie (11 November) - A Chinese pop culture holiday for those who are single to celebrate their single life. They tend to go out for dinner with their single friends and make sure they pay their own bills to maintain their independence. It's also a chance for others to get away from being single, such as attending blind dates.
Singles Awareness Day (SAD) (13, 14 or 15 February...your choice!) - A day for those who are single to celebrate/commiserate their single life. Some observers of SAD do so out of spite for Valentine's Day. A common greeting on this day is "Happy SAD!!"
And in Valentine's Day-related news around the world:
- Saudi Arabia moral police are banning the sale of roses and Islamic groups are warning against the promotion of Valentine's Day in Kuwait. The Saudi Gazette reported that "...the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice had visited flower and gift shops in Riyadh last weekend and instructed them to remove all red items - from red roses and wrapping paper to boxes and teddy bears - from their shelves...". On the day before Valentine's Day, raids are conducted and any red items that are a symbol of love are confiscated. So guess what? They appear on the black market and their price shoots up!
- In contrast, in Singapore, officials who are concerned that their country's low birth rate could affect the country's survival, they are using Valentine's Day to promote romance and marriage! They are stepping up their "Romancing Singapore" campaign on Thursday in an effort to get people together and doing some luuuvin! The government is directly funding some dating agencies to come up with new opportunities for singles to meet and get together.
- Valentine's Day is right in the middle of divorce season in Texas. According to Texas Dallas attourney Vanden Eykel, people are most vulnerable at Valentine's Day, because 'the passion that people reserve for this date is turned inside out when a divorce is imminent'.
So maybe being single on Valentine's Day is not so bad after all!
Wednesday, 13 February 2008
We had a bit of a chat inside for a little while before we decided we better go, and went driving around the area where he lives. It was pretty deserted and so I practised all those things like three-point turns and reversing around corners and other things I can't do! We were driving for a while before I noticed the front 'L' plate had disappeared! My dad looked around inside the car before coming to the conclusion that it flew out the window! We drove all the way to West City to buy a new plate. We were about to get out of the car when I spotted it under the seat! That saved us $2!
Aonghas has been reviving the Valentine's Day rose sale/delivery at his school with the prefects group. Our prefects group first did it a couple years ago but then last year they didn't have enough time to get it organised. This year after [gently] encouraging Aonghas to get things going he got round to organising selling those plastic roses for Valentine's Day and so far they're doing extremely well! Most people have bought roses themselves. I think they've sold over 300 roses so far for $2 each, and have at least another 100 to deliver tomorrow on Valentine's Day. My mum and I have been helping him search all over Henderson to buy all the plastic red roses on sale (not to eliminate competition of course!) but we think most of the shops have nearly run out! We're trying to claim that we deserve a bit of a the profit for labour and consultancy fees because as you know, everyone needs consultants! ;)
While walking around West City today looking for the roses I came across Liam, this guy who was in my year back in Rutherford! We had a catch-up for a little while - he's going to be a qualified electrician soon! Not too long after I caught Angie at work and she gave us a free sample of the new ice-cream her shop is selling! As we were walking back to the car I thought I might catch up with my ex-neighbour Zippo, as I saw her just leave West City earlier in the day and texted her, asking if it was her and she said it was. She told me to come by her shop and say 'hi', so I did! The shop was closed though, but luckily she was still at the counter so I waited around for a while till she finished and came outside to have a chat with her.
Ain't it neat catching up with old friends?
Tuesday, 12 February 2008
We got to the engineering base out by the airport right on 10am which is when the whole thing started. The car park looked empty and because it was raining, I was hoping we weren't the only few people who had turned up! It turned out there were heaps of people there already, but they had parked in the closer car parks! Trust my dad to park a mile away!
After getting through the entrance (we had to line up!) we went in, grabbed a few freebies and then followed the tour. There were displays of various aircraft parts, such as the different seats (jumpseats, economy class, business class seats etc), aeroplane noses, flaps and other bits and pieces. There was also a lab where aircraft toilets are serviced!
Once we got through this maze of aircraft parts displays, we entered one of the main hangers where there was a Boeing 747-400 on display with an extremely long queue! Because we only had two hours to spare, we decided to give it a pass. We had a look around the hanger, where there was a stage with performances taking place, and on the other side was a plane being serviced. We went into the other hanger and there was a Boeing 767-300 (smaller than the 747) on display, and because the queue to check it out was smaller, we lined up. Once we got inside the plane we realised why it was so small! We moved up the aisle extremely slowly inside the plane, but that was all right. It's been years since I've last been in a plane!
As we slowly moved up the plane we pushed various buttons, touched different things and opened other things. As we went through one of those arches (if you can call them that!) we checked out the toilet and our mum tried opening this ashtray-looking thing on the side of the wall but accidentally pulled it out! Fortunately she was able to pop it back in! We finally got to the front where we got to check out the cockpit, where there were heaps and heaps of buttons!
The last thing we did before we had to leave was go on a 'scissor lift', this platform that can be raised almost to the roof. It was pretty cool! We didn't go that high but we went high enough to get a good view of the Boeing 747 right beside the lift!
So the open day was a bit of fun which rekindled my childhood interest in planes! Now if only I had the chance to fly in one...
Monday, 11 February 2008
Sunday, 10 February 2008
On Friday night while Aonghas was still at TDI camp Hamish and I went to youth group, where there were only four of us excluding the adults! This boy who's still at intermediate school asked me if I'm a recorder teacher and said he was thinking of taking lessons! I hope he didn't mean flute though or else he'd be extremely disappointed! We were learning about sin and so we each wrote our sins onto a piece of paper and chucked it into a pot which we took outside and set alight. It didn't last too long of course! At least it was something a bit different and the church didn't burn down.
Saturday also saw the start of our accordion lessons for the year! Fortunately I started practising again early enough to improve a little before my lesson so for once I didn't have to worry about my accordion teacher thinking I hadn't improved since the last lesson! With nothing to do these holidays I've started to practise my accordion a bit more and have started to get back into a slightly more regular habit! Right now though I'm trying to find some music to arrange for an accordion duet and trio that we can play for the championships though as we've run out of music to perform!
Later that night after chatting to my friends Hyun and Joon on the internet for the first time since they've moved to America, I was surprised when they rang me soon after! We ended up talking for over an hour and it felt good, like it was back in those days a couple years ago! The sound quality of the phone call was pretty good too considering they called my land line from the internet. There was no echo or anything! We just talked about all sorts of stuff like how things were going for them over there. Man they have over 500 TV channels including all those news channels and cartoon channels! What lucky people! Anyway it's good to hear they got there safely and are starting to settle in!
Saturday, 9 February 2008
By Geoff Cumming
Luke, 17, going on 23, greets me confidently as I enter the admin block at Rutherford College. He guides me through the school maze, making effortless small talk - about the traffic, being at school on a sunny day, the younger students we pass whom he mentors.
Up a flight of stairs and we're in a classroom few pupils enter - it's reserved for an elite group of year 11, 12 and 13 students.
Elitism. It's anathema to the egalitarian culture which state schools (and teachers) have traditionally fostered. It's also at odds with the herd mentality of most teenagers. But here at Rutherford, this hand-picked group of students is being encouraged to become tall poppies - and they're not the least bit reluctant.
The school's Talent Development Initiative looms as an answer to the quandary of getting students not just to pass exams but to fully realise their potential and become well-rounded young adults. The combined form class includes not just the best and brightest in their subjects but those with particular strengths and weaknesses, and kids who may have been under-achieving.
The TDI, as everyone calls it, is a three-year pilot funded by the Ministry of Education which in 2005 directed all schools to cater for gifted and talented children.
Tucked beside the northwestern motorway at Te Atatu, Rutherford is a decile 5 school, reflecting its melting pot, mixed income, community. Barely half the roll is European, 20 per cent are Maori, with the rest Samoans, Tongans, Indians, Chinese and "other Asian." Like schools throughout Auckland's diverse communities, it has its share of troubled kids - and kids who are plain trouble. But what Rutherford is attempting with its gifted students goes well beyond what most public and private schools in more affluent areas are doing.
The current intake ranges from maths and science whizzes to budding sports stars, poets and musicians. These are not the offspring of doctors, lawyers, dentists and engineers - but some are heading down such paths. Others excel in rugby, netball, carving or graphics.
Some are good at everything they try; others have particular strengths but are broadening their skill base - helped and encouraged by their TDI "family".
"We do a lot of celebrating," says teacher Viv Russell, who heads the programme. "It's not a natural part of our culture but these kids experience [success] everyday."
To meet them is to be won over not by their intelligence or skills but by their groundedness and sense of purpose - not that they are bigheads.
"I used to get annoyed because I'm good at everything," Craig Robertson says matter-of-factly.
"Now I can do all the subjects I want and then do more because I just love having knowledge."
Like many, he's tackling NCEA levels a year ahead of schedule and achieving excellence. "With the TDI you can pick and choose the subjects. The personalised approach really works for me." He's a gifted poet who plans to study law. But the TDI has pushed him more towards sports and the performing arts.
Under-achieving school leavers emerged in the 1990s as a threat to our international competitiveness and concern heightened in the early days of NCEA, when it lacked incentives for excellence. For parents with means, the response has always been to go private and that's accelerating with the emergence of newcomers such as Academic Colleges Group, which promise extension programmes for high achievers, longer lessons and "quality teaching".
For educationists, the bigger concern is that secondary education has a one size fits all, curriculum-focused approach which doesn't cater for kids who are "different". And unmotivated pupils can be disruptive ones. Others slip below the radar and may never fulfil their potential.
The Government response was to add "gifted and talented children" to the national administration guidelines and make $9 million available over three years for advisory support and talent development initiatives.
Mary Chamberlain, Ministry of Education group manager of curriculum teaching and learning design, says schools around the country have responded in various ways to the 2005 edict. She cites primary school music students going to high school classes; secondary students attending university lectures, and rural schools bringing pupils together for specific projects.
But for most schools - saddled with ever-increasing demands and resourcing issues - addressing the needs of gifted under-performers is just another priority. What distinguishes Rutherford, say academics, is its comprehensive, holistic approach.
About 30 students are in the TDI, selected after a series of interviews involving parents, staff and students. The identification process acknowledges that talented students are not necessarily top of the class and that different cultures have different concepts of giftedness - Maori and Asian students, for instance, are assessed for their ability to think creatively or laterally.
The students have a big say in drawing up their personalised learning programmes. If a student wants to do something the school can't provide, Russell looks to outside agencies for help.
"They definitely feel more in control of their own learning - they're a lot more empowered.
"They're able to do things they would never have thought possible."
Students attend the same subject classes as other students but may be given more challenging work and have a free period to pursue their particular area of interest. They help each other with after-school tuition. There's emphasis on activities beyond the classroom and on broadening social, sporting and cultural skills.
"We're trying to be far more flexible in providing learning opportunities to match the students' passions and strengths," says Russell.
There's regular evaluation and feedback between teachers, students and parents.
Russell was the school's head of learning support, working mainly with special needs children. Then, while taking a top class through the grades, "I realised they had special needs too."
Results are already tangible in terms of improved grades and scholarships and the unheralded school's successes in last year's interschool debating championships (winning the senior section and coming second in the advanced league). Then there's the personal development into well-rounded young adults, aiming high but with feet on the ground.
"There's a like-minded focus," says Year 12 student Chelsea Robinson. "There's no tall poppy syndrome here because we all want to succeed."
The students' achievements are as wide-ranging as their talents. Last year, head boy and school dux Chen Liu did stage one university maths and passed NCEA with excellence while tutoring students after school.
Year 12 student John Kingi produced a proposal for addressing Maori under-achievement at Rutherford in consultation with parents. He was a Youth Parliamentarian and has a weekly slot on community radio focusing on youth issues.
Kawana Waititi, bent on following his uncle into a career as a carver, last year came third in the Auckland regional Manu Korero speech competition.
Carey Sizer has his own web design business and hopes to gain enough NCEA level 3 credits in the first half of this year to take up a scholarship in Japan.
For Aonghas Anderson, the TDI has allowed him to develop his filmmaking and video editing skills while doing advanced calculus, statistics and physics. This year, along with Rose He, he's taking a university paper after school.
Allie Le Lievre, an Auckland age group netball rep, has developed leadership and public speaking skills and become deputy head girl. A year behind her, Te Kura Ngata Aerengamate, a promising rugby player, says the TDI has helped her focus on academic subjects and improve her grades.
The students feel privileged to be part of an elite in a public school environment. They are conscious that other students envy them but have come to terms with being different. It comes with the confidence in knowing who they are, says Russell. "We don't get kids who we think are ideal who say no. We have had some upset students who desperately want to be on the programme."
The students also give a lot back and Russell believes lessons from the TDI will percolate through the school. As Le Lievre says: "We are guinea pigs - but we're hoping to set it up so everyone else can benefit."
Russell says the key is having a dedicated teacher with the time to organise opportunities for the students and liaise with parents. "A lot of schools will maybe do just one thing such as mentoring, or withdrawal one day a week."
Whether other state schools follow Rutherford's lead could hinge on the trial's evaluation by researchers headed by Dr Roger Moltzen of Waikato University. Evaluator Tracy Riley, of Massey University, was "blown away" when she met the students. "What struck me was the personalisation of their learning and the role of the dedicated teacher. It's not just about academic achievement, it's about pastoral care as well.
"The kids were quite articulate about what their gifts and talents were. They were a very cohesive and supportive group although their programmes were quite individualised. It's moving away from one size fits all education."
Further endorsement is likely from a forthcoming Education Review Office national report on schools' response to the 2005 requirement to cater for talented and gifted students.
For Rutherford, the more pressing question is what to do when the Ministry funding runs out - how to make a dedicated TDI position sustainable within a constrained school budget. Russell says there are creative ways to do so.
"These kids have a right to have their needs met - underachievers are at-risk children too."
And as Luke Sizer points out: "A lot of the things we do, you don't need a whole lot of money for."
Which will be music to the ministry's ears.
Says Chamberlain: "Our policy isn't to put an extra teacher in every school to support gifted and talented children. The policy is to enable every teacher to support gifted and talented kids in their classroom.
"It's about supporting the development of innovative approaches to gifted children's education and sharing the knowledge of models of effective practice."
TALK OF THE TALENTED: WE'RE MORE FRIENDS AND FAMILY THAN CLASSMATES
Carey Sizer, Year 13
"It's the holistic approach that sets it apart. We're encouraged to take part in areas we're not participating in, such as sport or music - it makes us a lot more rounded. I've got my own web design business outside school - the TDI has really helped set me up with people. "I took level 3 art and design last year and this year am going to Japan on a six-month scholarship so I'm just doing four subjects. I should be able to gain enough internal credits to pass before I go - that's the flexibility of NCEA."
Chelsea Robinson, Year 12
"I'm doing level 3 chemistry one year early which will lighten the load next year so I can do other sciences. We are forced into all sorts here. The subjects aren't easy but with our vertical form system it's students helping students."
Allie Le Lievre, Year 13
"Everyone is really passionate about education and achieving well. I really feed off that. Because we have multi-year levels there's a lot of support within the TDI - a lot of mentoring. We're more friends and family than classmates. We just learn so much off each other."
Alex Strange, Year 12
"In primary and intermediate, if they try to do acceleration most of it's just extra work - you have to choose between struggling with people you don't know or being with friends. The really good thing about the TDI is they say 'what do you want to do and how can we help you do it?' It's a more comfortable environment where everyone's your friend and you don't get singled out for being different."
Gannin Bell, Year 12
"Before, I would not hang out with many people out of my school group. Now, with so many different people - how can you not like random people? It helps in all areas. It has taught me a lot of stuff like time management and motivation - and enthusiasm is contagious. I find the higher class of knowledge, the more you want to achieve. In ordinary classes the teacher spends 10 minutes of the lesson telling everyone off."
Rose He, Year 13
"The highlight last year was probably debating for the senior debating team which won our grade in the interschool competition. We thrashed St Kents. My major achievement personally was [becoming] head girl. I don't think I would have been motivated to apply if it wasn't for the TDI. Our subject teachers are aware we want to be stretched and they're always willing to help."
John Kim, Year 13
"I plan to go into medicine or health research and before the TDI I was hardworking but not a top student. The TDI taught me skills in studying and made heaps of difference to my marks - I've learned that hard work is not everything. I didn't have any leadership roles but once I got involved in the TDI I became a prefect and developed leadership roles in my church."
Aonghas Anderson, Year 13
"I'm interested in maths and sciences so [along with Rose He] I go to university three times a week after school for lectures and labs. The TDI also allows me to pursue interests in filmmaking and video editing. I started filming events at school and putting them on YouTube. The official Rutherford College page has 130 videos on it. I'm not sure what I'll specialise in but film definitely looks appealing."
- The Weekend Herald, 19 February 2008
Friday, 8 February 2008
Happy Chinese New Year of the Rat!!
This was to be my second lesson. I had my first lesson the week before where the instructor just wanted to see how well I could drive. She tricked me into parking at a bus stop though! When she told me to pull over and park and I did so, she asked me if I could park there, and I initially thought it was fine till I looked up and saw the sign!
Anyway it felt as though the instructor was getting tougher on me in my second lesson as she kept picking on me for not checking my mirrors whenever I was about to turn and kept telling me not to turn corners too fast or put on the brake when merging or...I don't know!! There's so many things to concentrate on! I really need to start practising more before my next lesson next week so I can try impress her!
There was supposed to be a partial eclipse yesterday sometime between 5-6pm. I waited all day for it to happen. The only problem was that when the time came, the sun was still too bright for me to stare at it, and so while I couldn't notice much going on up there, at least I did notice the sunlight getting slightly dimmer! That was pretty cool, despite my friends not being able to notice it!
As for Waitangi Day, what did I do to celebrate it? Absolutely nothing. Oh I did tune in to Maori TV for a little while when Triangle TV took Al Jazeera off for a while, but besides that I was stuck at home all day and made most of the time sitting in front of the television watching Al Jazeera, following Super Tuesday!! Someone did point out to me that it was actually Wednesday but I like the sound of Super Tuesday better ;)
Wednesday, 6 February 2008
But more importantly...
Happy Birthday Grainam!!
Happy Birthday Kyle!!
Happy Birthday Brad!!
And not to be outdone..
It's also Ronald Regan, Axl Rose, Bob Marley and Queen Anne's birthday!!
And even more...
In 1952 Elizabeth II acceded to the British throne upon the death of her father, King George VI. The coronation took place June 2, 1953.
In 1959 The United States successfully test-fired for the first time a Titan intercontinental ballistic missile from Cape Canaveral.
In 1998 President Bill Clinton signed a bill changing the name of Washington National Airport to Ronald Regan Washington National Airport
In 2004 an explosion ripped through a Moscow subway killing 41 people and injuring 129 others in an attack blamed on Chechen separatists.
Monday, 4 February 2008
The last game was where each team had to come up with the most number of sins mentioned in the Bible in two minutes. Once time was up, each team read their list out, and if any other team had the same sin on their list then we'd all have to cross it out! While other teams had three or five words, we managed twelve! :D Our list featured some very dodgy words though (I have no idea how we came up with them!) like bestiality, incest, fornication, polygamy...There were a few of the younger kids who were asking what bestiality meant but most of the older people weren't too keen on telling them! After the games were over we overhears someone pondering..
"With words like those I wonder what goes on in their minds!"
Our team ended up winning getting a maximum 20 points for coming first in both games. All the other teams were tied for second with 16 points! We finished Sunday School with some snacks and drinks which was nice.
As soon as it was over though, our parents came to pick us up and we rushed all the way to the TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre in Manukau City where the Chinese New Year Festival, this time being run by WTV, was held.
This was the first time we had been to this event, let alone the venue, and so we were interested in what it was like, and also how it compared to the Chinese New Year Festival held earlier this year. In the main hall there were all these stalls around the place. It wasn't as big as the other festival, and you could definitely feel ASB's presence there with activities and posters plastered with the ASB logo everywhere (they were the main sponsor of this event). At about 2.30pm there was a performance in the theatre. It started off with a pretty cool Japanese dance by some children, but then after that there was some Chinese rock band and a few random games on stage. There were these four guys who played Korean drums though which was pretty cool!
After a while we got a little restless so we went out and checked the food stalls outside. The festival was nearly over so our mum went around looking to buy some heavily discounted food, and came back with quite a lot!
While we didn't have much time to spend at this festival, overall it was smaller than the ACCC's Chinese New Year Festival at the ASB Showgrounds and possibly not as good, but that's subjective!
So now that I'm going to study pharmacy and eventually become a pharmacist (hopefully!), here are 10 reasons to date a pharmacist ;)
1-Very clean life style and bed style too.
2-We are well trained to listen.
3-Drug Dealers….with a license! Hell yea..
4-Free drugs, condoms, and birth control pills…We play safe!
5-When it comes to measures we are precise, gentle, and got a whole bunch of leaks before reaching the end point! lol,don't u just love Titration?!
6-We know quite enough anatomy, to know what works and where.
7-We own a variety of lotions, creams and gels, and aren't afraid to use them.
8-We do it on the counter, in the car, and on hospital beds all day long.
9-We never miss a target ;)
10-Love is all about chemistry, right?…Well so is Pharmacy !
(Courtesy of Facebook!)
Sunday, 3 February 2008
I decided I'd go to the Student Support Centre to ring the lady I was supposed to see to find out where I was supposed to be going. Now the only problem was trying to get out of the building! I couldn't get the door open! I was trapped inside the building for a while till someone else came in and I dashed over to exit while the door was still open!
I managed to find out that I was in the right building and so I got back in, met up with the lady and discussed my timetable with her. It looks like it'll be another week or two before I get it confirmed!
Yesterday our family was originally going to go out for yumcha, seeing as the day would probably the last time in a while that everyone in the family would have the day off. We were going to check out the Imperial Gardens Restaurant, the one I went to with the Kiwi Asian Club (thanks guys for helping me discover this restaurant!). However, there were a few things our parents had to deal with at the bank, and with time against us, we got in the city too late for yumcha! After a heated discussion we ended up parking at the far end of the city where the remaining free car parks can be found. This meant we had to walk an extremely long way to get to the heart of the city, where we ended up having lunch at this Asian food court.
Once we had finished we walked along Queen St to Aotea Square, where we found these buskers performing as part of the Auckland International Buskers Festival. These two guys, dressed in very, very tight costumes performed these acrobatic acts, such as one standing on the shoulders of the other, one standing on his head on top of the other's head, and other things. They were very 'Russian', and we were all led to believe they were Russian, right up until the show finished, when they got out their donation bags that said AUSTRALIA on it with the Australian flag. Their Russian accent disappeared and was replaced with their Australian accent! It was all an act, just like the acrobatics!!
Friday, 1 February 2008
I was an hour early so I decided to try look for cream eggs to buy Diane as I know she really likes them! I walked all the way to The Warehouse to check it out but couldn't find anything! I was walking up Queen St looking for other shops selling them when she texted me telling me she was just about to arrive in the city! We met up outside Imax and then walked down Queen St all the way to The Warehouse. We spent a little while looking for toys for Diane to buy to give to these children of the farmers who own the farm she has been working at (what a very bad sentence!). After a while of browsing, as well as looking for a Spongebob t-shirt (for Diane but with no success), she finally decided on two soft toys, one of them a dancing hippo and the other one this baby that glows and plays lullaby music when you squeeze it.
Once we were done, we then walked all the way to Foodtown to do some shopping. Diane wanted to buy some...stuff but we ended up walking around the store at least five times, picking up a drink along the way before she finally decided to buy the stuff. We then walked back to Queen St, drinking our cans of 'V'.
I have to say this day was really badly planned in that she only asked me to hang out the night before and I hadn't even had any time to think of what to do or buy her something! We ended up walking back up Queen St all the way to Nando's and Imax before deciding we'd have lunch at Burger King. Because she had paid for my drink, this time I took her Eftpos card off her and paid for her lunch! I caught up with Tim, this guy from Rutherford at Burger King too which was cool.
After lunch we didn't really know what to do, as Diane had pretty much done everything there was to be done in the city. I did try suggesting having a little walk around the Viaduct but she didn't want to get sunburnt, and I suggested showing her around Albert Park (which is a really nice park...during the day!) and maybe around uni, but she wasn't too keen on walking, even despite me offering to carry her! I then tried to get her down to the arcade to challenge her at one of those dancing game things, but she wussed out! So we went back upstairs, and wandered around checking out clothes shops. That meant being the only guy in women's clothes shops at times! I even went into this clothes shop and watched as Diane tried on this thing and the saleswomen talking clothes with her! One commented on how the other's were 'fake'...Diane ended up buying the clothes.
My last offer was to take her to the bungy thing next to Sky City since she had never tried that before, but she chickened out of that too! So Diane took me to this little cafe to try some dessert. I tried this ....Timi..something (I was trying hard to memorise the name of it!) which tasted interesting. We talked for a while before she decided to catch the bus home, but not before giving me a hug and slapping me on the head, which I just realised is an imitation of the emoticon she has (one of one MSN person slapping another!!). Wow, and last time she brushed me off when I tried giving her a hug! So it was good hanging out with her. I probably won't see her again till the Easter holidays if she's not that busy that is. It was a bit of a shame we didn't really do much though, hopefully she didn't get too bored!
Oh and as for Hamish's job interview, no news yet...