Sunday, October 25, 2015

NDF Conference in Wellington and Education Seminars

The National Digital Forum Conference up in Wellington was surprisingly very good. It was mostly surrounding what is going on in digital projects by the GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums) sector, which I normally view as being stale. It actually has some really interesting things going on, even in New Zealand! Before one meeting, a guy at my table was on the subject of  how cats were ruining the native wildlife and birds here, and I said there was an easy solution: just have indoor cats like we do in the U.S. He seemed to have never thought of this before. One fun part of meeting new people is meeting Dune fans and trying to convert others. I convinced two women who are science fiction fans but hadn't read it yet (mostly because its length is intimidating) to add it to their list. I’m pretty much a Dune ambassador at this point. 

I checked out the National Library's little exhibit on the 1975 Maori Land March while I was there. In short, a large group of Maori led by a 79-year-old woman, Whina Cooper, marched the length of the North Island south to the capital, Wellington, to protest the loss of Maori land. Petitions of support were circulated, and I thought how real and concrete these seem in contrast to today's online petitions.

There were some interesting seminars at the university. One was a Digital Humanities seminar on the issues surrounding preserving, storing, digitizing, and dealing with copyright for all of the old university radio shows and music still stored on cassette tapes. Two others were on the Education Campus and featured Professor Antonia Darder from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles . She spoke on decolonizing the body in education and how we are doing a disservice to young people by enforcing the mind/body split and pretending that education is only about their cognitive abilities and not the rest of their physical selves. Immobilizing them in rows of hard desks and viewing teachers as technicians rather than pedagogical leaders is hampering a development of empathy and whole selves. I had never heard of Paulo Freire before, but I am interested in now checking out his Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Professor Darder also was the keynote presenter at an Education Symposium where she elaborated on her notion of what is needed for critical leadership for social justice and community empowerment in today's world. She ended with reminding us that the Western mentality is a conquest mentality, making everyone believe that everything has to be big to be worthwhile. But she said local, small acts can have great impact and translate bigger. She was a really passionate and inspiring speaker, and I'm glad I had the chance to hear about different ways of thinking about education.
Dr. Antonia Darder in her lecture on decolonizing the body in education

In other news, we were invited for dinner at someone's house where we tried some new foods: parsnip and leeks. We brought American-style buttermilk biscuits which were happily scooped up. They taught us how to play Mahjongg, which was great because we had just bought the game at a garage sale that morning and I have been wanting to learn so I can play with my Chinese friends. Apparently it is so addicting that it is banned in Chinese universities so the students don't get distracted.
leaving the South Island

my 6:40am flight was mostly businesspeople (men) in suits

view of downtown Wellington - weather stayed mostly nice

one conference presenter had a Dune reference on his slide - sweet!

sighting 1 of neighborhood cat in Wellington

sighting 2 of neighborhood cat in Wellington

sighting 3 of neighborhood cat in Wellington

Parliament building in Wellington is called The Beehive

Wellington airport has lots of Lord of the Rings stuff hanging

I beg to differ: insulation here stinks

leaving Wellington at 8:00pm

returning to Christchurch

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