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”