Sunday, August 09, 2009

From Doha to Beijing and back to the blog

The view from the second floor study window is of large leafy trees, grass and some flowers amongst the townhouses and villas. The sky is still gray this morning although we have had some blue sky show through during this first week. Yes, here I am in Beijing now living on a 'compound' (for want of a better word) called Capital Paradise, along with 100s of other expats, including many teachers from school in Beijing. The scenery is a distinct contrast to the view from my window in Doha, Qatar which was often of dusty/sandy skies, heat and little vegetation.

The past six weeks have been a whirlwind of travel and change. Leaving Doha I went straight to NECC09 in Washington DC, I blogged my initial schedule previously. So busy at NECC I didn't blog anything!! However, as usual it was an amazing time and I had eluminating conversations with many people.

From DC I traveled down to Camilla, Georgia to stay with friend Vicki Davis, my wonderful and amazing flat classroom partner. With us was Sue Waters from Edublogs. Vicki and I worked on flat classroom development and business while also enjoying wonderful southern US hospitality, including a trip on the Flint River, lots of southern-style food and a July 4 family celebration and community fireworks.

Vicki and Julie in DC, July 2009

From DC, Violet and I, my daughter traveling with me, went to New York City for a few days to soak up the city environment. Highlights include 2 nights at the Jazz Standard (thanks to Gary Stager who organised this and was with us), seeing Stomp and Mary Poppins, and visiting Ellis Island and Liberty Island. We also managed to catch up with Kim Cofino at the MET for an afternoon! I am a big city person at heart and love the buzz NYC provides.

Leaving NYC we flew across the states, dropped down in LA for a few hours and then flew across the Pacific via New Zealand home to Melbourne, Australia. Some time with family and friends and preparation for our move to China. During this time I did manage to visit Clare Rafferty, a flat classroom teacher, and E-Learning coordinator at Ringwood Secondary College to learn more about the 1:1 Apple program from Grade 9-12. I also had a fun night with the Melbourne bloggers at Southbank, including Jo McLeay, Sue Tapp, Jenny Luca and many more!

One highlight of being back in Oz was taking the opportunity to visit Anne Mirtschin at her school in Hawkesdale, Victoria. About a 4-hour drive from Melbourne Hawkesdale is a farming area (dairy, sheep and cattle). Hawkesdale P12 College is a small school with a big heart. This face-to-face meeting with Anne's students, 3 of whom had traveled to Qatar in January for the Flat Classroom Conference, was another 'flat classroom' experience. We plan to continue classroom interactions this year with projects and Skype opportunities.

With students at Hawkesdale, Australia
Scenes of the Great Ocean Rd, traveling from Hawkesdale back to Melbourne

Our last week in Oz was spent at Rosebud relaxing and catching up on sleep before traveling again. During this time we met up with John Turner and his family. They are about to embark on an international teaching adventure starting with positions at Qatar Academy in September. John is one of the original flat classroom teachers and will continue to facilitate global projects in Qatar.

Now we are in Beijing! One week of orientation gone, and we have settled into our new lives. Lots of shopping and sorting and getting used to everything. Yesterday we even went on a trip to the great Wall.
A typical street at Capital Paradise, our new home in Beijing

John and Violet on the Great Wall!

So, just to let my readers know I am alive and thriving in Beijing. My new school Beijing BISS International School, where I am IT Coordinator, a whole school position focusing on e-Learning and 1:1, is wonderful and very welcoming. There is lots more to blog stay tuned! One last thing...I did manage to get around the Great Firewall by downloading VPN software, so now I am into all spaces I need to survive. I was starting to panic, given that China has blocked Twitter, Blogger, YouTube, and Ning comes and goes. More later!


Anonymous said...

Wow, Julie, you have sure packed a lot in during those couple of months. It was just so wonderful to have you visit us at Hawkesdale and for our flat classroom students to meet their teacher. We really enjoyed your time with us. It is so good to see you enjoying China. I remember climbing the great wall, and messaging everyone I knew to tell them I was actually climbing it as it was such an awesome experience for me. My you and your family enjoy your new school. They are so fortunate to have you with them.
ps I wondered how you got around the great fire wall!!

Heather Davis said...

Welcome to Beijing. I would apologize for the skies but at least it is fog and humidity and not smog so far this summer. :)

Hope to catch up with you face to face here in Beijing.

I am at back to school tomorrow for 8 days of prep and then the influx of our kids. Another year begins....


PS I am at Yew Chung International School over in Chaoyang District.

Julie Lindsay said...

Anne, I agree the Great Wall is an awesome experience!

Heather, I know we will meet up here in Beijing, would love to visit your school sometime. Good luck with the start of the year.

nancyvonw said...

I wish you all the best in Beijing! Sounds as if your summer was fantastic- I love how our online friendships become so much deeper when we have time together F2F.

Julie Lindsay said...

Hi Nancy, thanks for dropping by my blog. I agree the f2f experience enhances an online connection! Not sure when I will get the chance to venture over to Europe again now I am in Beijing...but lets stay in touch!