Reflections on my first week back from Hong Kong

I have been away from Hong Kong now for over a month. It seems longer than that in many ways. My immediate recollections of Hong Kong include the peacefulness of my apartment, the gratitude of friends such as Emily at the bookstore, and Louise at Starbucks. I miss Ryan, Jamie and Andrew as well. I miss the optimism of students. There are so many students who influenced my life. I will not forget them.

I am reading Parker Palmer’s The Courage to Teach. It is an amazing book because the author allows himself to be so vulnerable. Although I read it years ago, when I started teaching, I thought that perhaps this summer might be a good time to read it again. In the book, Palmer argues that emotion, intellect and spirituality must come together to create a solid teaching presence. Without any one of these elements, teaching will suffer. He goes on to say that methods open the door, but that effective teaching can happen only when the teacher is “present” emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. I realize that while I permit myself to be vulnerable to my classes, I am not nearly as willing to permit myself to be vulnerable around my colleagues. I can see that I need to work on that. I will continue reading the book as well as reflecting on how I can improve my own teaching.

Earlier this summer I attended QSI dinner at China Harbor Restaurant. I felt very welcome, although it was obvious that I was not supposed to be there. Mr. Gilson even said something like, “Welcome Jim, why are you here?” The dinner was set up for directors, curriculum writers, librarians and other non-teaching staff. Regardless, I felt welcomed and encouraged by my Bill and Joan, my director and his wife. I am thankful that Maynard had the inclination to invite me at all. I also appreciated meeting other directors and administrators from Kazakhstan and around the world. All in all it was an encouraging event.

After the event, Erin actually drove from Bellvue to pick me up. I am so appreciative of her and Konstantine’s hospitality. They have been so kind to me over the years. This year is no exception.

[From Reflections on my first week back from Hong Kong]

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