Jumping on the annual bandwagon to reflect on a whirlwind of a year that seems to have passed faster than any previous (is it because I’m getting older?). This time two years ago, I was reflecting on rewriting the curriculum of my then-new school, whilst last year I was excited for my new role as Director of Mission. This year, I have also been able to add some academic achievements into my professional life.
But first, school life! First year as Director of Mission, of course, meant a lot more admin work, many more hours out of school time with and without students, and much event-based pressure. And it was worth it! Being able to connect with students outside of the classroom and help them work out how they can be considerate, caring, and compassionate human beings is perhaps even more rewarding than teaching them well in the classroom. I had the opportunity to be a staff supervisor at a Rosies outreach, Relay for Life, the Salvation Army Door Knock Appeal, and volunteering at parkrun. This challenged me to reflect on what I do for the community, and whether it’s enough.
The most incredible experience of the year, though, was the ‘immersion’ to Thailand, with 2 colleagues and 7 students. We spent a weekend in a village near the Myanmese border, getting to know the families living there, before spending time in the Marist Centre for Migrants in Samut Sakhon, where the students taught classes and made friends with the Myanmese students. Living out of a backpack, sleeping on a mat on the floor, having a ‘Thai shower’ (read: trough and pan), and visiting family homes of the students was a reality check for me as much as for our 16-17 year old students.
In the academic world, I was pleased to be able to attend the Australian Catholic Theological Association conference again in 2017, and this time, to present a paper on the role of music in reflection with the 2020 plenary council in mind. I was encouraged there to send my PhD off to publishers, and despite being wary of the commitment I would have to make to editing, I followed the advice I was given, and within a few weeks I had contract with Wipf and Stock to publish my book. This exciting news meant that my evenings in the last school term were consumed with working on editing. The good news is that it’s almost ready to go, so I will submit it by the end of January and my book will be published in 2018.
There is much else I could say about serendipitous meetings with various people at convenient moments throughout the year, and the relationships and friendships that ensued, doors that have opened with exciting opportunities, and other exciting things that happened along the way, but those I’ll keep those stories closer to my heart for the time being.