It will be a busy couple of months head of us, so I will try to cover all our activities as briefly as I can. Our major social event in October will, of course be the 70's themed 'Trivia Night'. Let's hope there’s a fabulous turnout for this fun occasion.
At the end of this Newsletter you may be interested to read from two of our male choir members: Malcolm Peck describes his annual trips to Nepal to, among many other things, build a well-needed library, and Clint Smith reports on his programme of vocational education and skills development in Papua New Guinea. These accounts are both enlightening, funny and engrossing, so please take the time to read them. Your heart will 'sing' too!
|TUESDAY, 21ST AUGUST: FINAL MEN'S MUSIC THEORY CLASS WITH PATRICE
|TUESDAY, 21ST AUGUST: RETURN SPARE MUSIC (PARTICULARLY XMAS)
|TUESDAY, 18TH SEPT: LAST CHOIR FOR TERM & V.W'S TALENT ' OPEN MIC'
|TUESDAY, 9TH OCTOBER: TERM 4 COMMENCES
FRIDAY, 12TH OCTOBER: JEKYLL & HYDE, NATIONAL THEATRE
|SATURDAY, 13TH OCT: TRIVIA NIGHT, BEAUMARIS BOWLS CLUB
|FRIDAY, 26TH OCTOBER: VOCALLY WILD CONCERT, BRIGHTON TOWN HALL
TUESDAY, 6TH NOVEMBER: CUP DAY (NO CHOIR)
|TUESDAY, 11TH DEC: BAYSIDE CAROLS IN THE PARK
|SATURDAY, 15TH DEC. VOCALLY WILD PARTY, BLACK ROCK YACHT CLUB
PATRICE'S MUSIC THEORY WORKSHOP
By all accounts, the Men's workshop has been going really well and Patrice's time and expertise are truly appreciated. Thank you Patrice. The final workshop is on Tuesday and I hear there will be a Q and A session!!!
VOCALLY WILD CONCERT - FRIDAY, 26TH OCTOBER
Our annual concert will take place in the Brighton Town Hall. Cost will be $20 for audience members (children free) and this price includes supper and drinks. Booking is via Try Booking. For those who are not able to use Try Booking, cash will be accepted at the door (correct money please if possible). A flyer will be forwarded with this newsletter and hard copies will also be available shortly. We are keen to promote our concert as widely as possible, so if you are on friendly terms with your local shop keeper, or any other community facility, they may be happy to display the flyer for you.
We plan to cater for food and liquid refreshments, which will include wine/tea/coffee/soft drinks, and we will be asking you to bring along a plate (not for heating up) of food to share. If you want to get together with a few people to compile an offering, that would be wonderful too. We have several names on the list who have volunteered to assist on the night (all are men, thank you so much!). Please add more names to the list if you know someone who will assist. We will be grateful for help prior to the concert - setting up, collecting entrance money, setting out food, etc. and post concert - serving of wine, making tea/coffee if required, clearing up and putting away chairs. Dianne (2nd Sops) has the list, if you wish to add to it, We are excited to make our first concert as an independent choir a huge successl
'VOCALLY WILD HAS TALENT' OPEN MIC' SESSION - TUESDAY, 18TH SEPTEMBER
Don't forget this, between 8.45 p.m. – 9.30 p.m. If you have any questions, please contact Dianne at choir, or email her, on email@example.com
SOCIAL COMMITTEE NEWS
Edwina reports that the Pub Night was a success. 15 people braved the cold, wet, windy night and thoroughly enjoyed this pleasant, worthwhile evening, sitting snuggled up to a warm fire, wine in hand. Thank you to Edwina for organising this, in response to people's comments in the survey.
URGENT REQUEST - HOME NEEDED!
- Trivia Night - 13th October: Planning is on track for this fund-raiser, so everyone is now encouraged to book a table, pay your money ($10 a head), bring along friends and family and enjoy a really fun night. The flyer will be forwarded again, to remind you of the full details. Any donations for the Raffle and Prizes are very welcome and a box will be placed on the table at the front for the next few Tuesday nights. Thank you to those who have already offered items. If you have any queries, please direct them to Edwina or Jennifer Hayes (Altos).
- Christmas Party - 15th December. Planning is also under way for the end of year party at the Black Rock Yacht Club; band and venue booked, so pop this date in your diary. If you have any queries please direct them to Edwina or Lidia (1st Sopranos). Thank you.
Russel and his wife Christine will be travelling to Albury, on the 18th August, to shake hands with the choir riser vendors across the border and take possession of our new acquisitions!
We are urgently looking for a safe, sheltered storage space for the choir risers, which sit neatly packed on the trailer. The trailer measures approximately 6' x 4', so if you have a spot in your carport, garage, lock up, or plot of land, which may be appropriate, or you know anyone who does, please advise Russel or any member of the Committee.
RETURN OF UNWANTED MUSIC
Last reminder about our "Return Unwanted Music Sheets" night. If you have any spare copies of past music, in particular Christmas carols and songs, please bring them along on Tuesday, 21st August. Maggie has offered to collate them. This could well save a few trees, and cost us less in printing, particularly as we need quite a lot at Christmas time!! Many thanks.
"JERSEY BOYS" MUSICAL - FROM ROSE OLSEN
I have just booked tickets to 'Jersey Boys' for Wednesday, 13th March, 2019, at The Regent Theatre. Cost: $80 per person, side seats of Rows A, B, C. D and E. Payment is required by 30th November, 2018. Please contact Rose on firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you.
If you go onto Facebook and search for the Vocally Wild page, you will find plenty of interesting information. Jenny keeps us up to date, so please have a look! Vocally Wild's own website is www.vocallywild.org.au
IT MAKES MY HEART SING - TRIPS TO NEPAL - (Malcolm Peck)
You will all know “Where’s Wally” and that could easily be him in the photographs, at least the Wally bit!
I travel to Nepal each year under the auspices of the charity trust the Pahar Trust, Nepal (PTN). The trust was founded 25 years ago by two Ghurkha soldiers: Tom Langridge and Chandra Gurung upon their retirement. They wanted to give back something to their region of Nepal and education was the easy choice. Pahar means “the mountain with reflections of sun early in the morning”. They saw the name as representative of education for life. So, the trust focusses its activities in providing education for the poor people of west and east Nepal. Sadly, Tom died but Chandra is still fully engaged with the trust he started. I count him as a friend.
My lifelong friend Christopher, a retired teacher and PTN trustee, cajoled me into joining him on a visit to Nepal. Eventually I did and fell utterly in love with the countryside and its people and now nothing stops me going there.
The photographs show me in the village of Chhachok visiting the primary school which was the first school I visited. The children know me and the greeting last year was no different from the first time I visited. The story of Chhachok primary is typical of all the other schools I have visited and happily helped. The school is over 50 years old and of course not built by the PTN (mind you the secondary school up the hill was built by the PTN!). It has never had a library and during my first visit I asked the head teacher what the school needed and whilst there were so many things, he said they simply wanted a place where children could enjoy books and reading: a library. Before leaving the school I asked one of PTN team to supply me with a list of what was needed and the cost. A little while later I got a reply something like:
If it’s not too much trouble could you help turn an old room with a dirt floor, no ceiling, no plaster on the walls, no windows and a leaking roof into the library? I said you bet but you need books, shelves, tables and chairs and how about painting the interior and putting a carpet down? Oh, whilst we are at it what about a lightning conductor to prevent the regular strikes to the school fabric?
The PTN responded by saying this is amazing but it will cost $7,000, is this too much? I raised the money within two months because of the stunning response from friends in and around Sandringham. The following year I visited the school and cut the ribbon declaring the library open and then burst into tears! The children danced and sang to me (& others) and it made my heart sing.
Little did I and others know what affect that library was going to have on the village? Let me tell you. The number of children attending school increased to an extent that there were not enough teachers to cope. Yep, you guessed it my family and friends fund a librarian/ECD teacher called Laxmi. She is a star. Children come to school early and leave late to enjoy the library, lying on the carpet reading is still a wonder to them. Then would you believe illiterate mums and dads started to use the library and if that isn’t enough the drift of families from the village to find better schools for their children stopped. Talk about awesome!
The view from the playground at Chhachok is a little over powering: the Annapurna Range feels so close that you can touch it. The journey that young children take to get to the school is a common tale. Many walk for two hours each way often through the jungle where wild animals roam. So, in winter when it gets dark early the children leave as late as they dare to get home safely. The PTN builds dormitories so children can stay during the school week and not have to walk to for so long. Simple solutions that change lives. Indeed changing lives is what happens. Asha, a girl attended Chhachok primary and secondary schools, but schooling stops at year 10 and her dream of being a nurse faded. She needed to attend years 11 & 12 but to do this she had to go to the big town of Pokhara and her parents, subsistence farmers could not afford that. Hell, I thought a nurse she will be. So, once again my friends stepped up and funded all Asha’s schooling, accommodation and travelling costs. I meet her each year and the joy of seeing this young woman blossom cannot be measured!
Pokhara is a great town (well I think so) almost due west of Kathmandu (KTM) and it became the centre of trekking to the Annapurna Ranges. It takes a whole 25mins to fly there from KTM or if lucky 8 hours by bus. If you are going to Pokhara then fly! Presently, it’s nowhere near as busy as KTM. It doesn’t take that long to cross a road but look out in KTM where being brave is a prerequisite for crossing roads!
Mind you do not linger on the main Pokhara lakeside road as the horses will collect you, not to mention the sacred cows!
The town has one boundary on Lake Phewa. I always stay in the lakeside area, sadly like Hampton more and more high rise buildings are going up, spoiling the views and ambience. Mr Drimpoo is the local jeweller who I have got to know well he is a lovely fella so go there for your jewellery needs or perhaps ask me to buy for you (no commission). If you enjoy beer then the Everest brand is very good as is the gin but don’t touch Nepalese wine whatever you do! If you have the right contacts then one can buy genuine Pashmina (goat’s wool) shawls and scarves. There are plenty of “genuine” pashminas for sale made from polymers!
Rowing across Lake Phewa and then walking up to the Peace Temple is, to say the least, an energetic pursuit, but worth doing.
It was not surprising that the success of the library at Chhachok spread like wild fire through the region and especially to the other four primary schools that send their school children for further studies to the Chhachok secondary school. It seemed important to support these primary schools for the children’s future and the sustainability of the villages.
The year we opened the library at Chhachok a group of us in the PTN party visited Shree Barhara school in the village of Melbot located a few kilometres away. The teachers explained their problem with getting children to read books both in the Nepali & English language. Their school in on a ridge and the surrounding land is prone to land slips.
To cut a long but beautiful story short, I came home determined to help them but conscious that my friends had already been generous with their funds and there was no point in supplying a library if the children could get swept away in a land slide. So this time the challenge was to stabilise the land around the school and renovate a room to provide a library . The land slips were in part caused by cattle denuding the land of trees and vegetation.
The buffalo are commonly found in villages, being used for milk and to draw ploughs in the paddy fields and unlike cows they can be eaten. Ah there are stories associated with buffalo and rice fields but they will have to wait until other editions!
The list of jobs was larger than for Chhachok including painting the outside of the building and land stabilisation. Local agricultural experts were drawn into the project and they recommended planning lots of trees and fencing off the newly planted land. Not an easy job on the side of s ridge line. So, upon my return to Australia I thought about how to raise $17,000 and warned the PTN that this could take a few years to raise. Well, I got that wrong as friends and business associates rapidly came to help and the money was raised in months. I was really staggered with the generosity of people and excitedly told the PTN to start the project adding that let’s put electric lights in all the classrooms and give them a coat of paint, surely that could be done within the existing budget.
A year later I went to Melbot with friends joining the PTN party and was greeted as the photo shows. I cut a ribbon, burst into tears (silly old bloke) and ushered the children into their new library. I turned the light on to the amazement of the children. There followed much dancing and singing and a teacher had written a song about me which he sang in Nepalese with the occasional use of the word “Malcolm”. You will be pleased to know in the village the 15th February is “Malcolm Peck Day”! I left the village with gifts they had made for me that came home only after I threw out clothes from my suitcase!
None of our party wanted to leave Melbot but we had other schools to visit including Kalika and Bal Padam which feeds students into Chhachok secondary school. My friend Hom Gurung who grew up the area is the driving force in improving the lot of shool children in his old stamping grounds and so on his request we headed to the schools. A familiar process led me to raise funds to provide a library for Bal Padam and an ECD room for Kalika and these were finsihed about a month ago. This November I will visit the schools agin to share the joy the children will have in using their new facilities.
Before drawing this bit of my story to an end let’s visit KTM, on our way home. One suburb in the capital is called Thimi in which the major occupation is pottery making. Every street has pots in it mostly drying in the sun. The photos show pots in the street and three ladies passing the time of day with the one on the right being un-happy with me talking a photograph of her. I scampered very quickly!
Thank you for reading about my exploits, there has not been a moment that I did not enjoy my time with the wonderful people of Nepal and I’m already practicing the Neplai greeting “Namaste” ready for November. Not to mention getting ready to receive the red “Tika” on my forehead.
CONSULTANCY IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA - JUNE - (Clint Smith)
I am a freelance learning designer, which these days means everything from developing a change management blueprint for a whole organisation to designing online training modules. I work mostly in vocational education, designing programs for TAFE, government bodies and businesses. My specialisation is online learning, which is mostly called ‘blended learning’ now because the most effective solutions usually mix computer-based training with face-to-face delivery.
In 2012 I was contracted by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) based in Vancouver to develop a three year plan to implement flexible or off-campus learning in Papua New Guinea’s technical and vocational education and training system (TVET), their TAFE equivalent. The need for skills training is huge, and whole regions of PNG can’t access community or vocational programs. I spent two weeks in Port Moresby visiting and interviewing the usual suspects, living (there is no other option) in the heavily-guarded Holiday Inn compound, and wrote an absolutely marvellous 40-page plan. A year later we discovered the marvellous plan hadn’t even been read, mostly for political reasons, and my project contact and host had been shipped out of PNG because he had been robbing the till – he owned two hotels in Sri Lanka, very difficult to do on PNG education department salaries. He was one of the few who get caught.
We’ve been chipping away over the years, three visits, working mostly directly with teachers on designing their off-campus workbooks, rather than at the generally dysfunctional (and possibly corrupt) system level.
Major education sector reforms in PNG recently looked promising for a new start, so I was back in Port Moresby in June to run a workshop for a new cross-sector implementation group and then a week working with the teachers designing their learning materials. I’d love to say it went swimmingly, but of course this is PNG, and it didn’t. Only four of the 25 invited teachers and principals turned up to the workshop. Most of the new management committee were from university background, and showed little understanding of competency-based vocational training using National Training Packages, which TVET has spent 12 years (and most of its budget) developing. The big challenge for off-campus delivery of TVET is that the students have to show they can do stuff, like repair a motor, rather than just pass knowledge quizzes or write essays. It’s hard to get this across: some TAFE trainers still struggle with the change, especially designing valid assessment, after almost 20 years on the case.
But hope springs eternal. On the last day of the consultancy, we met an impressive prison officer from Koki, not far from Port Moresby. He wants courses for his detainees. He has already organised university off campus and secondary correspondence programs, but the prisoners really want practical employable skills, such as motor mechanics. By the close of the workshop we had downloaded some excellent free competency-based learning materials on Automotive Cooling Systems from Australia, and set up some meetings to make it happen in Koki. They apparently will have no trouble obtaining vehicles to practise on — we didn’t ask how. J
No 40 page plan, no PNG course materials, no specialist unit, no permissions or approvals, no budget – just a practical need, an innovator, and a local relationship. And it might just might happen this time. As you can see, I’m a slow learner.
All this, and I missed only one choir session!
Clint Smith - Alleged Tenor.
Thank you Malcolm and Clint for taking the time to tell your stories. Talk about Vocally Wild having talent! There will be more snapshots of Vocally Wilders' interesting lives to come, so let me know if you want to share something.
I will be travelling to the UK on the 19th August, (hope to catch some of that sunshine) and return on 2nd October; however, you will be well and truly kept in touch with news while I'm away. Enjoy your singing and I do wish I could be a fly on the wall for 'Vocally Wild's Got Talent' on the last day of term. Hope somebody makes a video!
Best wishes, Pat.