Saturday, March 21, 2015

Giving and Gaining Knowledge

I have really been soaking up the knowledge recently at several lectures on campus:

The Canterbury Historical Society had one on economic history in the 20th century (also known as, What happened in the 1980s?!). It might not have interested me a decade ago, but being a worker and investor now makes me quite interested in the economy and how/why things work like they do.

The university and local writers' festival live-streamed the How To Be A Feminist panel from the Sydney Opera House, which included top women from Australia, Canada, and the U.S., including Germaine Greer. Then afterward was a local panel from Christchurch. The lecture hall was packed and had a broad range of ages. It was enlightening to see what the current trends and issues are in contemporary feminist activism.

The public What If lecture series had its first one of 2015 as What If All Women Everywhere Were Treated the Same As Men? given by a professor of law who is French but also now a New Zealand citizen. She mentioned the disappointment in finding that most New Zealanders she encountered weren't very interested in pursuing gender equality, like doing something about the gender pay gap.
Most of the information I already knew, but she gave a lot of updated statistics. On average, women in NZ spend 4 hours and 20 minutes doing unpaid work, while men spend 2 hours and 32 minutes. Only 15% of professors (highest level of academic teacher in their system) are women, begging the question of where are all of the women completing MAs and PhDs going. Top law firms in Auckland (biggest city in NZ) have 19% female partners. It takes 24 years on average for a woman to become a CEO, while it takes 15 years for a man.

The Critical Animal Studies series featured a Russian academic who presented on the Artist as Dog in Russia. There's a famous Russian artist -- Oleg Kulik -- who puts on a collar and chain and pretends to be a dog in various cities around the world, highlighting the lack of freedom for artists in Russia. She also talked about how the dog is portrayed in literature and Pavlov's treatment of dogs in his experiments.

The Canterbury Women's Club postgraduate networking group that I have been pushing to get underway had its first meeting and was quite well-attended. I enjoyed hearing what other people are researching, and the main speaker is doing cutting-edge research on bloodstain analysis in relation to forensic science. Apparently, the models out there only look at blood dripping downward and not all of the splatter that travels in arcs. She uses 3-D cameras and physics and also does educational outreach to encourage kids to see the practical applications of studying math and science in school.

We went to a poetry reading on campus. It has been a long time since I went to one of those, and it felt very hippie but was quite enjoyable. Hearing people perform their poetry makes it come alive so much more than reading it on a page.

Meanwhile, by the third week of tutorials my nervousness is almost dissipated which is a relief. We discussed The Time Machine and Heart of Darkness and it surprised me how these turn-of-the-century novels have a lot of similar issues and themes that people are wrestling with today (benefits and downsides of science and progress, racism, class-ism, sexism, ills of capitalism). I guess that's why they're considered literature and still worth reading. In my other one-on-one tutoring job, I am remembering how much I enjoy it and seeing the lightbulbs go on as I explain concepts and how to tackle assignments. So far, the students have been very appreciative of assistance.

In other news, I got around to booking accommodation for our upcoming North Island trip with a mix of hostels and Airbnb. You get so much more for your money with these places because you have access to free wi-fi and a kitchen. I'm not looking forward to meal-planning for two weeks this time, but it's necessary. We had the earthquake insurance inspectors here again to check something that wasn't covered in their last visit. Apparently they are having to make the decision whether to try to repair the house or rebuild. Our landowners said not to worry and that it wouldn't affect us, but of course with all the trouble it took to find housing here, I don’t really believe that. Last week we went for a walk in the "red zone" near us where the houses are all gone and nature is quickly reclaiming everything. It is a bit eerie, especially how fast plants take over.

No comments:

Post a Comment