Singing the Song Unsung

As we have all now gone our separate ways, it is with a heavy heart that I write this reflection on my experience at the ADE Asia Institute of 2011. I had no idea what to expect coming in and what I left with was far more than I could have ever imagined. To say that I am feeling inspired, energized, valued, and connected still does not relate the true meaning of the experience for me. What I got from those five days with the ADE Asia class of 2011 is far beyond anything I am able to express in words; a short recap of one of the most memorable moments will have to suffice.

I’m a competitive person, so when, on day three, we set off for the Saigon race I was in it to win it. A half an hour into it my team of Rob Ferrin, Ted Cowan, Jabiz Raisdana and I realized that we were just not into it. We tried. We all got on a motorbike. Ted translated a sign. Rob cooked waffles. Jabiz ate street food. I rode a broom, all four of us sat in a seat in the Opera House (hey! Did anyone notice that we were the only ones to actually get into the Opera House?!), but it was over a bowl of Pho that we decided this was all going nowhere. What was the point?

Twenty minutes later we found ourselves in a boat on the river. I could feel my anxiety level decreasing rapidly and soon total calm set in. Sitting on that boat with those three guys (and, of course Hal, our translator) was where my real ADE experience started. Thoughts from Yeewei’s talk the day before came flooding in… you’ve gotta do a lot of different things before you find the one thing you love… it’s all about finding happiness… And then, out there on the river with nothing but the sound of the engine chugging, the conversation began.

We talked about a lot of different things, but what it really came down to for me is that none of us would be the educators that we are if we didn’t continue to push limits, break the rules, go against the grain, and follow our passions even when it’s risky. This is exactly what I expect of my students, but find very difficult to practice on a daily basis. Spending five days with such an amazing group of people with all of the fantastic speakers, facilitators and advisors created a space where I was able to look deeper into who I am as an educator and then really explore who I might want to be.

The message I heard again and again, in Yeewei Chai’s keynote, in 3 Idiots, in Joseph Linaschke’s talks, from Rebecca Stockley, and most definitely from Pei Sze is that life is short. Step out of the comfort zone and into the wild- who knows where it will take you? What I now know is that there is an amazing group of educators out there who doing just that. I am ever so grateful to the ADE Asia class of 2011 for all of the inspiration.

I will borrow the words of Bob Dylan for a moment to express my wish for how we might live our lives and therefore inspire our students:

“May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung”

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10 Responses to Singing the Song Unsung

  1. Hey Hilary,

    So glad that you have decided to start this blog. That way we can continue the conversations we started in Ho Chi Minh City. I look forward reading your work and following your Tweets. Just by the sher fact that we are both from Marin, I am sure we have many things in common.

    Anyway, I have added your blog to my RSS, I hope you don’t lose steam and forget about it.

    • Thanks, Jabiz- you are an inspiration and I’m not just saying that! So good to get to know you over those days & to continue to stay in touch- I’m loving Twitter, thanks for the introduction!

  2. Steve Katz says:

    Nice reflection Hillary. Words really can’t express the experience. I am finally “coming down” from it all and starting to feel more normal again. The buzz in my head is now down to a whisper. I enjoyed being in your “homeroom” and investigating Saigon. I glad our paths crossed.

    • Yup, Steve- I almost didn’t want to write a reflection because of the impossibility of finding the right words to express the true meaning of the experience. I’m coming down too.
      It was really great to get to know you & thanks so much for Saigon 360- that was a pretty amazing experience and who knew… a whole lot of fun in the end.

  3. Pingback: Teach With Video » More ADE Reflections

  4. Love the Bob Dylan quote, Hillary. I feel like we are now a part of a well connected community. I’m so glad too that I’ve had a chance to get to know you better as a colleague.

  5. Ted Cowan says:

    I love the title of your whole blog, but I can’t seem to see it when I loaded it this time. “Wonderfully Awkward” wasn’t it? Describes many of our students and many of us, as educators (and adults) too, I’m sure. We are all stumbling through life, hopefully always trying to “push limits, break the rules, go against the grain, and follow our passions even when it’s risky”. I love that line. How do we make a daily practice of driving our students to their passions? The questions that burns on. For today, it will be congratulating the performers in last night’s drama production.

    Thanks for the mention, it was a great day on the river and at the whole conference.

    • Thanks for that, Ted. I brought the title back. I deleted it thinking that it was maybe a little too awkwardly awkward, but I’ve been teaching middle school for quite some time now and, well, it just fits. Also, you’re right… as humans bumbling through life most of us are just wonderfully awkward.
      Congrats to the CIS kids on the drama production.

  6. Cary says:

    As a fellow educator with children of the world, I have been quite inspired by your writings, lessons learned and reflections and I thank you for posting. I smile many times as I read through your blogs past N present….thanks for the reminders of why we teach with heart! Even though we get energy from children, they can at times, use up as much as is available….hence we need to always have that reserve….or once red-lining it, remembering to refuel as quickly as we can so we get back that extra energy to give, I believe this is key…a thing called BALANCE~not always easy but very desirable & invaluable!

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