Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Our interconnected world

Busy, busy, busy - getting ready to leave for the 7th AEC-NET teachers' conference in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. It's not my first time in Malaysia, but the first on the exotic island of Borneo. I must say I am feeling slightly apprehensive about the long, long journey - 3 flights, all together well over 30 hours of travel! Pheww!!!! And with preventive malaria tablets making me feel slightly dizzy I am not actually looking forward to this...

In the last few days I have been tweaking my project presentation, and finally I think I've got it together. I am particularly proud of my title slide with this picture of me on it:

I am pretending to be a tour operator for 'Mastering Media goes Digital', using the analogy of a journey to tie together my account of last year's project. It's always nerve-racking to present in front of an audience of 100 odd peers from around the world, but at the same time I am so happy to have been given this chance to tell others what I truly believe in. The aspect of competing for monetary prizes - as I have said many times before - is slightly off-putting for me. Every finished project is an achievement in itself, and often they are so very varied and different that it is almost impossible to decide which might be better than the other. At least in my opinion anyway.

What I really wanted to write about tonight, though, is the thoughts of travelling in today's world. My journey to Malaysia was under threat for quite some time while the airport in Bangkok was closed by local protesters there. Funny, how my personal, purely selfish reasons made me frantically look for information about Thai internal politics, to understand what was going on there, and to find somebody to blame in the event that I had to cancel my trip plus my whole family's Christmas holiday in Malaysia. We had to change flights in Bangkok, you see. If my travel hadn't been at stake, I doubt whether I would have bat an eyelid at the situation in Thailand...

Today then, I received some emails from colleagues in Greece, saying that their arrival at the conference has been delayed because of a general strike in Greece after all the student unrest and riots there in recent days.

What are these incidents telling me? To stay at home and forget about travelling round the world meeting people and collaborating for the benefit of our students? At one point I was ready to write off the whole of Asia from my list of travel forever, if my and my family's plans were ruined because of trouble in Thailand.

Yesterday I read that Stanstead airport in London was blocked by environmental activists. After all the worldwide publicity from Bangkok, did they decide to copy? This piece of news did make me feel quite quilty of my carbon footprint with my long flight tomorrow. Maybe I should buy carbon offsets from climatecare or some other similar group. Seems as though in our interconnected world these incidents will be with us to stay... We live in very uncertain and complicated times. Is it a sign of my age that I am so troubled by all this? Why can't I just take these things in my stride any more?

I am keeping my fingers crossed for myself, and for all the other conference participants that we will all get there safely. Despite all the turmoil, though, very much looking forward to the energetic atmosphere of the conference once again. We have been promised wireless Internet in our hotel rooms, so I am hoping to be able to blog on my experiences.

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