Sunday, 12 February 2017

A day in the life...

So, I know our blog has been dead for months (years?!), and the temptation is to say: “maybe it’s time to call it a day”. But it’s at least worth having a storage place for our newsletters and a way for people to go back and see some of our history with Wycliffe. Plus, to be honest, it would probably just be a cop out to shut it down! So here I am again, after a long break, writing an update!

There are lots of reasons why posts have become as scarce as an iceberg lettuce in the UK (sorry, a specific culture and time relevant reference - see here), but the two main ones are:
1/ Much of my current role is based on/around communicating with people. So, if I’m honest, the last thing I want to spend time doing is writing something else to communicate with more people! (Gosh, I complained about that in our last blog… this really must be a ‘thing’!)
2/ I often just don’t know WHAT to write about. When we were living overseas, even simple tasks like cutting up a pineapple (yes, honestly, see here) seemed interesting and worth writing about. Now we’re in the UK everything seems, well, grey and ‘normal’.

While there’s not so much I can do about the first point, the second could easily be challenged. And so, I thought I’d try and give a short overview of ‘a day in the life of Matt’. I’ll grant you, it’s not particularly exciting but maybe it will give a little insight into what I actually do!

before 8am: a blur (or a whirlwind, whichever image you prefer) - as any parent of young children will confirm.

8am: Levi and I scoot/cycle to school and I continue on to the office. Truth be told, this if often the highlight of my day. I know it is a real privilege to be able to take my son to school and, when it’s not raining, enjoy time out in the fresh air. Don’t get me wrong, we often end up arguing over which side of the road we should be on, or why his hands are too cold, or why I didn’t do something I should have… but on the whole I love this time with my boy.

9am: arrive at the office and, depending on the time of year and whether or not I’m teaching on a course, I would normally go straight into class (teaching sessions run in the mornings, with students usually having self-study time in the afternoons) or check over my new emails. Working with a global team means I’ll invariably have some emails from the previous day from colleagues who live west of me, and some from earlier that same day from colleagues living east of me! They can be about a whole host of things, but often they are ongoing discussions about collaborative tasks we’re working on. I respond to the easy ones, prioritise tasks in the more challenging ones, and review activities for the day.

mid-morning: classes have a set coffee break time each day, and so staff–whether teaching or not–often join this to catch up and connect on key topics.

rest of morning: if I’m not teaching, I will usually get settled into a task relating to either the LEAD community of practice (coordinating resources for an upcoming event, sharing links and information through online forums, responding to a team or individual who has asked for information) or helping my team in Asia with our internal communications and collaboration (ensuring people know what each other are up to, updating our communications material for other teams, exploring new funding or partnership opportunities). While I prefer working together in person with colleagues, there is something very rewarding about working online with colleagues who are living miles away, developing ideas and learning from each other as we share our different experiences.

lunch: as a colleague who visited recently to work on a project commented, “I didn’t know Brits could be like that!” Let’s just say, our lunchtime conversations are wide-ranging and vocal. A good time to catch up with one another and let off some steam.

early afternoon: living in the UK has many positives, one of which is that when working with a global team I’m often the only one who gets to have team online calls actually during my standard working day. My poor colleagues in Asia have them late at night, while my poor colleagues in the US have them early in the morning, while I get them right after lunch! I do try and put this privilege to good use by taking as much responsibility for calls as possible, leading discussions, taking notes, sharing documents etc. As well as online calls, I often have team meetings in college at this time of day as well, coming after classes but not breaking up the afternoon too much.

mid/late afternoon: this is usually my most productive time of day, where I see some good progress on tasks that need some deeper thought. I plug in my headphones, turn up Spotify, and away I go. A current example would be a brochure I’ve been working on with partners to talk about the connections between mother tongue-based multilingual education and sustainable development goal #4, quality education. This kind of task is right up my street - taking a technical and complex issue and trying to find creative and engaging ways to communicate it to a range of different audiences.

5:30pm: home for family dinner and the ensuing chaos that lasts until the kids are in bed, some time between 7 and 8pm.

evenings: usually my evenings are work free, but just to try to be flexible and accommodating I do have some work calls with colleagues in far-flung time zones late into the night.

And so there you go - a rough day in my life. In many ways it probably looks and sounds much like yours, and I guess it is. Sometimes this makes it difficult to see the difference my work is making to the marginalised people around the world. Thankfully I have great colleagues who affirm my value and appreciate my small efforts, and in the meantime I’ll just keep doing my best in the tasks I’m given. I guess that’s all any of us can (and should) do.

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Wednesday, 13 July 2016

(Not) communicating

Matt, communicating at a recent learning community event!
No, the blog is not dead, it's just been forever (well, a year at least) since we posted. There are many excuses we could give for why that is, including laziness or malaise, but ultimately it's a work thing.

I've been reflecting on how increasingly my work involves communications within and from my team, thinking about what information we need to share, with whom, and how we can share it most effectively. Particularly as I'm responsible for facilitating and encouraging a diverse learning community across Asia and beyond, I try and ensure that my team are regularly sharing helpful links, resources and updates on issues that are relevant to the teams we support. Since this is how I spend a lot of my working day, I guess it is easy for our personal communication through this blog to get relegated to a 'rainy day'.

Thinking about this some more, however, I wondered whether some of the things I share through my work might actually be interesting to post here - if nothing else but to give you a feel for the kind of resources and topics I work with on a daily basis. So, below are a few of the recent links, resources and news that I've been involved in sharing through our learning network. I hope this both encourages you about the work that is ongoing with minority people throughout Asia, and helps you get a better feel for the kinds of things we are involved in supporting through our work. Do try clicking on some of the links and exploring some of the exciting opportunities that are going on right now. Any questions about anything you read, leave a comment or drop us an email and we'd be very happy to try and answer them!

A lovely example of community action:
“I didn’t make this film to become famous,” he says. “Our language is nearing extinction. It is my mother tongue. I can’t give you a reason why I love it.”

Great to see the conclusion of another successful LEAD Asia supported event.

Do you known anyone who might be interested in applying for this grant for developing a Guidebook on Game Development for Early Literacy Learning in Developing Countries? ‪#‎funding‬

Within bilingual or multilingual education work, the involvement of stakeholders is so crucial. LEAD Asia will teach a workshop to train people to facilitate discussions 12-18 October. If you know education officials in your country who would benefit from this training, share this link with them:

A helpful blog on the 'status' of the ‪#‎SDGs‬. Good to see one of the key topics at our last CoP event - developing national networks and coalitions - highlighted as an important part of realising the Sustainable Development Goals.

This looks like an interesting free event. Could you join in online and share your experiences?

Read more…

Saturday, 15 August 2015

A busy summer

While for many July and August mean holidays or a quieter period at work, here in Gloucester it’s been a busy time both at home and work. With the baby due any day now we’ve been trying to fit in seeing as many friends as possible (notably with trips to Sheffield and Thame), catching up with some people we haven’t seen for far too long. It’s been great to hear people's news, see (rapidly) growing children, and enjoy time in some places that still mean a lot to us. At the same time, it’s been nice to come back from these trips to our current home. Liz and Levi have been making the most of the holidays, doing lots of activities with friends and getting as much fresh air as they can.

At work, Matt has been trying to get as much as possible done ahead of taking a couple of weeks paternity leave after the birth. His team’s next community of practice learning event is taking place at the beginning of September and Matt has again been responsible for coordinating event preparations. Over 50 participants from across Asia will be meeting in Bangkok to share and learn about ‘Advocating for multilingual education’ (find out what this is about here) and so it should be a really exciting time. Working on the preparations this time round has been particularly bittersweet for Matt since he won’t be able to be at the event despite it being a topic so close to his heart. Thankfully Matt has got a great team working together on the event and so is confident they’ll do a great job facilitating it without him! Please do pray for the team as they prepare for and then run this event and for all the participants as they travel from their places of work, learn together, and then return to communities to share and implement their learning.

Aside from looking forward to our new arrival any day now, we are also looking forward to September and a new academic year. Levi will start going to playgroup 1 full day and 3 mornings a week and Matt will be teaching a new group of Wycliffe recruits, helping prepare them for their work with minority communities around the world. It’s always exciting to be part of the beginning of people’s journey as they get ready to serve God and communities in some of the most forgotten parts of the world. Please pray for us as we do our part to prepare them well, both technically and spiritually, and for the students as they take this significant step of faith.

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Monday, 4 May 2015

Investing for the future

As a colleague said this week during the introductory class of the ‘Multilingual Education’ module:
“As staff here in Gloucester we really like this course, partly because it’s a subject that we’re passionate about… but also because it comes at a time of year when the seasons are changing and summer feels just around the corner.”
She couldn’t have been more right. As we start the final taught class of this year's Masters programme here in Gloucester, it feels somehow fitting that the trees and flowers should be bursting into new life. In our small class of five students we have a wide range of backgrounds, work contexts, and expectations represented. What they all do have in common, however, is a hope that the seeds of time and effort that they are investing now will one day burst into flower, both in their lives and the lives of the communities they work with.

Although it is often a privilege to see students mature in their understanding around a topic, teaching can also sometimes feel like a major responsibility. The students we have with us are keen to learn and to find answers to their many questions. It can feel disappointing and inadequate to so frequently have to answer with: “well, it depends". Because, of course, the kinds of issues we are wrestling with are complex and vary so much depending on the context. They involve difficult issues such as how people actually learn to read/write multiple languages and what a multilingual curriculum should look like, and even more difficult issues like how people feel about the languages they use and what the government thinks education should actually be for!

Of course many of these issues, although we might be able to identify some of them, are well beyond our control. We can influence some things, but beyond that we must trust that bigger change is possible and will come about through hard work and prayer - at the right time. Indeed change is a funny thing, something that is often impossible to see in the moment but clearly identifiable when reflecting back on a period.

As we enter another big period of change as a family, looking ahead to becoming four, we give thanks for all the things we have learnt as a family of three. We give thanks for you and your support of us and the work we are involved in, and we look forward to seeing the new seeds in our and your lives burst into flower at the perfect time.

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