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Published: April 17th 2018
After spending approximately three and a half decades teaching in a variety of Canadian classrooms, I officially left the profession five years ago. At that time, I recall saying in my farewell speech that I was not leaving teaching: just expanding the walls of the classroom. I knew I would soon be shaping a lifestyle built around extensive global travel, accompanied by extensive learning. So here we are, five years later.
Since that time I have co-produced and released Standing on a Platform of Kindness,
my second commercial album as a singer-songwriter, and continue to pursue self-directed study of the elusive world of music theory. I have taken up the sport of scuba diving and will soon be completing my 65th dive as a Certified Advanced Underwater Adventurer. I have spent twenty weeks immersed in the study of Hatha Yoga, twenty months travelling throughout several countries in Southeast Asia, and have dedicated myself to the task becoming fluent in the Indonesian language. Throughout this entire wonderful journey, for which I am most grateful, my soulmate husband Stan has joined me in the adventures. And so it goes without saying that the classroom walls referenced in my farewell speech refer not
only to those in which I was a teacher, but also to those in which I have had the privilege of learning.
Such is the introduction to my biopoem “Teacher”, one of several short biopoems I wrote and shared during my recent concert and teaching experience with the students and staff at Campuhan College, in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
I was first introduced to the positive energy of Campuhan College four years ago, in a chance encounter with a group of students during their English class. Stan, my ever-on-duty music manager, asked their teacher, Yeni, if his wife, “a famous singer from Canada“, could sing them a song. At that time I had already begun studying Bahasa Indonesian, and had available one of my early music translation projects - Louis Armstrong’s When You’re Smiling - which I sang for them in both languages. And so the relationship with Campuhan College began, with several subsequent drop in visits to classrooms to share a song or two since then.
But this year I was invited to spend two hours
with a class of college students.
A short while later, with the assistance of the class teacher, Yeni,
and the Assistant Director of the College, Novenia, a plan was devised. I opened the program singing Connie Kaldor’s Harsh and Unforgiving against a slide show featuring seventy Saskatchewan landscapes. This was followed by a number of songs featuring Canadian artists - with the sharing of my biopoems and presentations of the student biopoems
interspersed between the songs. The set also included a few songs by two iconic Indonesian artists (Slank and Iwan Fals) to which all present knew the lyrics, and were excited to try singing along to my English translations of the songs. It was a special treat to have Ryan, teacher and talented musician, also share some music. Singing the Indonesian pop songs with full choral accompaniment from the class was definitely a concert highlight for me. However, the student readings of their biopoems deeply touched my heart, as they reaffirmed my appreciation for this very special culture, where spiritual well being and balance is highly valued, and descriptors like ”kind”, “gentle”, ”humble”, “giving” and “happy” often presented themselves in their biopoems.
True teachers are a rare breed. For them, the lines between learning and teaching are difficult to discern,
as they are lifelong learners. And what they have learned they rejoice in sharing; in teaching to others. They may leave the classroom, but they never really stop being teachers. At least, that is my story, and I am sticking to it. Forever honoured to call myself a teacher, forever grateful to all the teachers I have had in my life, and forever fueled by a passion for learning.
A sincere thank you to the students and teachers at Campuhan College, for this lovely opportunity to spend some time with you. Terimahkasih atas pengalaman indah.
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