English Teachers Are Happy To Share

English Teachers Are Happy To Share

Random Thoughts by Pauline

December 26  2014Friday 

You are the one!

Then came a call in November. It was a friend saying that she had a friend who couldn't afford a helper anymore now that she had lost her job. That brought us our new helper Mharscod.


We interviewed Mharscod and were happy to know that she had looked after a dog before. That was the experience in a helper we had been looking for. So we didn't ask too much and started the whole process of signing her. Mharscod's contract was terminated for financial reason and so the time needed for processing the papers would be shorter. Still it took one whole month.


Finally, Mharscod arrived. The moment we feared came.


"How long would Bean Bean bark at Mharscod before he stops?"

It was not long at all. He barked when he sighted the stranger. But almost immediately he stopped barking to walk round her sniffing her hard. Then he started wagging the tail!


It was like miracle - Bean Bean likes Mharscod! We are saved. Now we can take trips!


In less than 24 hours, Mharscod was takng selfies with Bean Bean.


Random Thoughts by Pauline

December 25  2014,  Thursday
Waiting for the one!

Bean Bean, my dog for 13 years had been left at home by himself (sorry, itself) for close to 17 months  since the last helper Daisy left. It must have been very miserable for him because Daisy had been taking care of him since he joined our family in 2001. In frustration, this good boy who goes to the cage for wee-wee would urinate on the floor if we returned home past midnight!

Bean Bean is very dutiful. He barks at the slightest noise he hears and the smallest dust flying in the air. Whenever any "strangers" like the delivery men or repair men are in the apartment,  he would bark from the moment they step in to the minute they step out.

We had been trying hard to hire a new helper. Not to say these days the demand for helpers far exceeds the supply, the mere mentioning of a four-legged baby is putting off many potential helpers!

So every day Bean Bean stayed in his bed with eyes on the door waiting for us to be back. He grew so tired waiting that when I did open the door, he would merely give me a look skipping the formality of getting up or wagging the tail. He did not even bother to bark.


Random Thoughts by Pauline

November 13 2014, Thursday               

Panty hose 

As a member of the Council on Professional Conduct in education, I have the duty to present talks on the Code for the Education Profession in Hong Kong.


I was to go to this international kindergarten in Tuen Mun. There were two ‘firsts” for me – first time ever to give such a talk and first time ever to visit this part of the New Territories. Rita, the HKWTO Executive and I met at Hung Hom Station for our lunch. As the restaurant providing traditional rice recipes was crowded with two long queues, we decided to go to the coffee shop with much fewer customers for sandwiches instead.

The trip was amazingly smooth thanks to the very efficient public transport system in Hong Kong. It took about one hour taking the West Rail Line from Hung Hom to Tuen Mun. The ride was comfortable showing me lots of green as the train sped along. This was followed by a very short bus trip of about 10 minutes.

As I got off the bus, I was distressed to discover that I had got a long run in my panty hose probably from the seat of the bus. I have this habit of wearing it to “complement” my outfit when it is a one-piece dress or a skirt. Fortunately, we were quite early and so we and so we had lots of time shopping for a new pair.

We walked round the housing estate popping in every shop and stall likely to sell this commodity. We must have asked over 10 salesmen and shopkeepers but the closest we could find were black tights or leggings but not sheer panty hose! Just when were about to give up, we came to a wet market stall selling children’s socks. So not expecting it would have, we asked one more time “Please do you have sheer panty hose for sale?”

“Oh, yes. Here you go! The last pair! 29 dollars!”

So after the formality as we arrived at the kindergarten, I asked for the bathroom. Then I sat down relaxed awaiting the teachers to present my talk.


Random Thoughts by Pauline

October 14 Tuesday     

 Make my day!

It was early in the morning when I drove to school. Traffic was brisk. When I stopped at the red light, I noticed the car next to me had the hazard lights on. It was clear that the lights were not meant to be on. Perhaps the driver had earlier signalled to stop and had forgotten to turn off the lights after he had pulled out. Without any hesitation, I turned my head to the left and gestured to the driver with an exaggerated version of “sparking”! He got it, smiled and saluted me to thank me! I felt great!

What a nice way to start a day! Doing somebody I don’t know a favour is actually doing myself a favour. Once my mother remarked that when I got behind the wheel, I grumbled a lot. It was only then that I realized I had joined the road rage regime. Hong Kong drivers though relatively civilized do misbehave such as tailing, sounding horns, cutting lanes and not signalling etc. Upon my mother’s advice, I drive much more courteously and the calmness it brings is blissful. 


Random Thoughts by Pauline

October 13 2014 Monday

  Heart broken

Though born in Shanghai, I have lived in Hong Kong for over 65 years. In all these years, I have experienced cholera outbreaks, water shortage, extreme poverty, riots, economic downturns, SARS and other ups and downs but never have I felt disappointed and heartbroken as I do now!


I was in Mongkok on Saturday for a medical appointment. As I exited MTR Station, there right in front of me was the stunning scene that has been on screen for over 10 days – tents and barricades right across Nathan Road that used to be covered by vehicles of all kinds! Stunning because as I stood there, I felt numb!


In the name of “democracy”, 7 million citizens have been held hostage! If we don’t pity those shop operators paying horrendous monthly rents of millions of dollars, then how about those commoners like taxi driver, construction workers, truck drivers, street hawkers and plenty more who live from hand to mouth? Their income has been brutally cut! Schools have been closed! Parents whose young children should be in school have their work schedule upset! Our highly respected police have to stand there to “protect” the protesters who are blatantly breaking the law! Maybe in the name of democracy, these are small “prices” to pay! But they have been forced into paying for a cause they don’t agree! As to the young students who have been holding onto their fortresses in the street, they have given up their studies which are heavily subsidized by tax payers and they are inconveniencing those who still go to classes as professors prefer not to teach in view of the small number of turn-up.


My heart aches as I don’t know how this is going to end. When the ransom asked for has been pitched to be simply non-deliverable, these demonstrators are not going to take a bow and leave the stage that easily. Their ultimate agenda is yet to be revealed.

Random Thoughts by Pauline

September 24 2014 Wednesday     

Ice Bucket Challenge

For the past months, you must have all come across photos or videos showing celebrities or friends taking up the Ice Bucket Challenge for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients. How do you feel watching these people enduring this ice cold shower in various forms? I, for one, don’t feel like watching! But as a fund-raising activity, it is extremely successful. According to the press release of Hong Kong Neuro-Muscular Disease Association on September 8, a total of $20 million was raised, 20 times that of the target amount of $200,000!


The Ice Bucket Challenge requires nominated participants to be filmed having a bucket of ice water poured on their heads and then nominate others to do the same. As can be expected in this internet era of social media, this activity has gone viral and attracted tremendous public attention. Prior to the challenge, public awareness of ALS was minimal but now we have become familiar with the disease.


I feel uneasy seeing people suffer even though it is for a good cause! This reminds me of Operation Santa Claus, a charity drive originated in the 1960s long before the time of the internet and is still very robust! The name itself suggests already that it takes place during Christmas, traditionally speaking a time for giving. Popular DJs would pull crazy stunts including jumping into the chilly Victoria Harbour, reading poetry on roofs and climbing flagpoles. 


Anybody wanting to take the challenge must have a strong heart and must also find a safe place and do it in good weather conditions because news reports abound with accidents and even tragedies of these good Samaritans getting heart attack or being electrocuted while performing the act!


Random Thoughts by Pauline

September 5 2014, Friday
 Young calves

The Chinese saying goes like this: New-born calves are not scared of tigers.

This is what came to my mind as I watched in admiration those young people on screen. They were screaming for justice, barricading streets, holding overnight vigil and getting arrested right in front of our eyes. I have the greatest respect for their courage and determination. But as a teacher, a parent and a grand-parent, I hope their deeds are informed choices. I am not worried about those organizers old and young because they know why they are doing what they are doing.

Calves are ignorant of what injury tigers can inflict on them and so they dare the tigers! Do these young followers know what they are fighting for? Do they know they might be physically injured or get a criminal record that would affect the rest of their lives? Now university students are crying out to boycott classes! These young people have exhausted the last ounce of energy to get themselves admitted and yet they are now skipping classes! And organizers are even encouraging secondary school students to join in! Legally speaking, these students are only minors.

I know fighting for a cause does carry a romantic appeal but as in all romantic affairs, there is a price to pay. Only mature adults who are well informed of the whole situation and who can afford the price should tread this path. 

Random Thoughts by Pauline

July 15 2014, Tuesday          

 I never know "detachment" is a virtue until I attended the workshop entitled "The Virtues Project - the Singaporean Experience" delivered by Dr. Phyllis Chew, Professor of National Institute of Education, Singapore. She explained with stories how the 52 virtues can help create caring campus and kinder children. Because of time constraint, she could only elaborate on several of the 52 virtues. 

One of the stories went like this. Dr. Chew had a doctoral candidate who kept postponing the completion of her thesis. It had been close to 5 years already.

Dr. Chew asked her to withdraw and yet she pleaded for half a year more saying that her child was taking up too much of her time. That had been the reason presented all these years though her daughter was already 10 and there was a domestic helper around. Dr. Chew asked us which virtue could help her. I looked at the list of 52 virtues and asked if the virtue of "detachment" could. I was right. It was like an awakening – very often we are depressed, distracted or disorientated because we are too attached. Our body and soul are into that something or someone. We grasp it or him/her as though there would be no tomorrow if we let go! We lose objectivity. Then it’s time to back off a little to give ourselves and the people around us a chance. The virtue of detachment can be helpful. 

All the participants of the workshop agreed that they would not only try to implement the Virtues Project in their schools but would also apply this positive mentality to their own lives as this can bring about peace of heart and energy to move on. If you want to know more about the Virtues Project and the 52 virtues, please visit:http://www.virtuesproject.com/education.html

Random Thoughts by Pauline

July 2 2014, Wednesday  

To tell or not to tell

 I am that kind of person who writes own feelings all over the face and verbalizes thoughts without modifications. Of course, experience has taught me hard lessons that I cannot simply pour my heart out to anybody anytime anywhere I happen to be.  I have to practise euphemism and delay criticisms preceding each negative comment with two compliments etc. I think all these are absolutely necessary when it is professional relationship we are talking about. 


But then when we are among family and friends, we become relaxed and less tactful assuming that we can be our true selves. When friendship develops, conversations become more personal. Words become more direct. Do we still have to decide what is to be said and what not? These days, with the widespread use of the smart phones, sharing has become more than just chit-chat. Messages, photos and videos are posted on the Facebook. We used to say “I am telling this to you only!” We might have to think twice. When friendship falls out, secrets might be broadcast for the whole wide world to know! 


Maybe we should re-visit George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four written in 1949 or The Truman Show, by Andrew Niccol written in 1998.

Random Thoughts by Pauline

June 21 2014, Saturday                
Trading places

It was around eight in the morning. The lift stopped on the fifth floor. In came a woman and a little girl of about five. They had to be mother and daughter as they looked so alike, the same round face and sparkling eyes. As they walked in, the girl was clinging to the mother’s legs nagging her at the same time.

“Mom, I want to be you! You don’t have to go to school.”

“Mary, I want to be YOU!”
This dialogue brought back to my mind a movie which I used for students’ school-based assessment 11 years ago - Freaky Friday, a 2003 film based on the novel of the same name by Mary Rodgers. It stars Lindsay Lohan as Anna Coleman and Jamie Lee Curtis as her mother. In the film, their souls are switched due to an enchanted Chinese fortune cookie. The whole story is about how each copes with the new role and the problems that come along ending with mother-daughter relationship improved and their identities switched back.
Trading places or swapping identities has been the theme of many stories such as the popular children’s story of The Prince and the Pauper. It is a novel by famous American author Mark Twain first published in 1881. Set in 1547, it tells the story of two young boys who are identical in appearance: Tom Canty, a pauper who leads a miserable life, and Prince Edward, son of King Henry VIII. The two boys get to know one another by chance. Fascinated by each other's life and their strange resemblance, they decide to switch clothes "temporarily". Edward leaves the court for Tom to be the prince. After a series of adventures and the death of the King, Edward and Tom switch back to their original places. Edward with first-hand knowledge about the life of the poor is crowned as King Edward VI. He vows to be a good king and in gratitude he bestows honour on Tom.

How many times has such thought of swapping identities come to your mind? And if you were given such a chance, which person would you want to trade with? The person you love most, hate most or envy most? And how would you persuade that person to accept your offer?

I know which person’s identity I want to assume but I am sure he would not want to be me!

Random Thoughts by Pauline

June 13 2014, Friday 
The Circle game

We all have such an experience – a state of captivity and numbness. These are days when we simply surrender to life’s challenges which might be something overwhelming or the last straw on the camel’s back or sheer boredom. We feel like trapped in a maze too exhausted to attempt the escape. "The Circle Game” featured in Joni Mitchell's third album, Ladies of the Canyon, released in 1970 comes in handy.

We're captive on the carousel of time

We can't return we can only look behind

From where we came

And go round and round and round

In the circle game


This is the burnout syndrome. Faced with mounting challenges whether from work or family, we are so exhausted that we stop fighting back or we find ourselves simply stifled by boredom. Whatever the cause may be, we have to re-activate ourselves by first examining our situation. 


Is it a situation we want to be in? How long can we stay there stuck? Why are we there? Is it the best for ourselves? These are solid questions we have to answer!

Want to stay in the situation – same job, same relationship? Then get re-energized to improve it. Get help if the challenges are overwhelming. Voice your objection if the workload keeps increasing or if the relationship is upsetting you. If life is too monotonous, create new dimensions. Break your routine. Make new friends. Start a new hobby.

Want to uproot yourself from the situation, make preparations for the change to come. Take it as a project and plan it but not to the greatest details. That would be too nerve-wracking.

Life does not have to be a circle game. Make the present enjoyable and look ahead to a known future coloured by surprises that you can handle!