What we want is not always what we get…

November and December were spent on cloud nine! The first because of a fabulous holiday and the other because our daughter and granddaughter came for Christmas, all the way from Brisbane.  January arrived and suddenly everyone was back at work except for me. The house was depressingly quiet and the dog and I were looking at each other equally as gloomy. My volunteering stint at the Museum of Islamic Art was over. With no job prospects at present, and my Australian visa application in a queue – a very looong queue – for the last year already, what was next?! I felt myself descending into the abyss of depression.

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Reflection by Fumigraphik_photographist on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

 

Why can’t I get a job you ask?…the only job I honestly stand a chance of securing locally is as a school librarian. I feel uncomfortable with the level of censorship required in this country, so for this reason I do not apply for any. Having interned for +-320 hours in an American private school, I heard and saw much. I reached the final round of interviews for 2 teacher librarian jobs, was accepted for one, but declined at the end of internship, as I realised that the local school environment is not for me.

Other (academic) libraries, under the banner of a major local holding company, have a cut-off age of 55 years, unless you are already in a position of worth. I have received zero replies from the National Library’s HR. Without appearing to make excuses, 3 factors work against me – I’m Western, I don’t have a Master’s degree and am considered ‘old’. The majority of entry-level jobs are seemingly filled by Middle Eastern nationalities. I graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor’s degree…a late career changer, chasing a long-held dream. At 59, with no experience bar +-500 volunteering hours, not many are willing to consider me employable. (If only they knew what a good librarian I’d make!)

My home country? No, not possible. An entrepreneurial venture? This would be another way forward, but I do not relish local red tape, and besides, this culture is very much a ‘man’s world’. My hands are tied – not cut off – just tied. For now.

Smiley+confused

To be away from this particular expat situation and to be in a country where I feel I could belong is my dream. Someplace where I can become involved in community projects, volunteer freely, join librarian meet-ups, feel that life has a purpose, and to be able to possibly find a job. However, what we want is not always what we get.

longingDry Pots by Mirjana Veljovic on Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Recently I began to think…perhaps what I want is not where I’m supposed to be? Have I another task to perform? Listening to the two people I live with (hubby and son) I began to see that my role had huge value.  I realised just how much they need me to keep things going so that they have a measure of support and sanity after crazy days in their respective working environments (you’ll only know to what I refer if you’ve been an expat in the Middle East). The mundane, unglamorous, task of running a home (which the world largely holds to scorn) acquired a new sheen. Added to that, a new granddaughter will arrive in April, in Brisbane.  Once again I’ll be required as home-carer-cum-babysitter for a good few weeks. (Not that I’m complaining, since I’ll be in Brissie! Yay!)

And so, resignation dawned – stop fighting the urge to escape, to build a new profession, stop the striving. Support those you care for most. This is a season in which they really need it. With that decision made, I felt at peace.alone

Pto. Madryn by Christian Ostrosky on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

So where does that leave my ‘librarian’ aspirations? Either I throw in the towel or I plod on.

Well, since retirement is not an option I am not about to cast myself aside as a ‘hopeful wannabe’. I choose to plod on! I will walk through PD opportunities that come my way, keeping my eyes fixed on that distant goal of ‘librarian’ position.  I will think positive, stay fit and healthy. I will not accept defeat and I will put my hope in the right place – in the One who can make all things happen.

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Beginning by Aftab Uzzaman on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

One morning a few weeks ago, I read an article that inspired me to keep my dream alive. I sprang into action and signed up for a MOOC through Coursera, Deciphering Secrets: The Illuminated Manuscripts of Medieval Europe, and enrolled for ALIA’s Born Digital course. I felt my spirits lift because some great learning would be coming my way soon. Simultaneously, I learned of another volunteering opportunity – a very exciting one – that may be available once I return to this ‘land-of-sand’ in May. I do hope it materialises.

What we want is not always what we get. For me, serving my family while waiting for the right time to realise a dream, feels like the right thing to be doing just now.

Here’s to you librarians everywhere…you rock!  I really envy you, but in a good way. 😀 Keep up the great work!

“Good librarians are natural intelligence operatives. They possess all of the skills and characteristics required for that work: curiosity, wide-ranging knowledge, good memories, organization and analytical aptitude, and discretion.”

Marilyn Johnson in This Book is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians can save us all.

curly1 vector

 

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Thing 5. Online networking: an expat’s view of Facebook & Twitter

The focus of Thing 5 is Facebook and Twitter.  Being an expat has shaped my interaction with these two platforms, both negatively and positively.

Facebook
Facebook, by Christopher on Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
I don’t like Facebook.  A few years ago, logging onto Facebook BEFORE BREAKFAST became the most important part of my day, and also the most painful, as I watched friends and family living their lives in familiar places and hanging out with each other. It made me so depressed. Because I missed the familiarity of home, friends and family, and I wanted to be a part of their lives, I spent longer and longer on Facebook. One day I realised this was eating away at my time and emotions to the exclusion of what mattered.  I came to my senses, deactivated my account, and made the choice to get on with expat living!

CC Open domain.
CC Open domain.
Some days the expat-adventure is jam packed with discovery and excitement, with the exotic and the oddly bizarre…

Camel

Crazy Camel, by Jeremy Vandel on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

 

…on others you have to dig deep to rise above it all, or you become bogged down in a desire to give it all up prematurely, wishing you could head home. Home.  After a while you have to work hard at recalling the familiar and ‘home’ becomes a blurry concept. (Ok, after 15 years at least, for me.  😀  )

At its best, expat life influences and moulds you, defines who you become – your thinking, your outlook, attitudes, worldview, toleration levels… all these are enlarged, challenged, tested and you find the need to constantly have a conversation with yourself.  This introspection is good…if you keep a sense of humour, you can find your quirky side, your weaknesses, your oddities, and hopefully begin to view yourself as others see you, and to criticise others less.

footprints

CC 0 image from Unsplash

The blinkers fall off.  For example, you gain insight as to why some don’t look you in the eye or give a firm handshake while greeting, because in some cultures a firm handshake is regarded as offensive; some consider the support of relations back home more important than spending on the latest fashion fad or fancy travel. You begin to have empathy for those who speak your language, albeit not perfectly.  You find that the way you use a word can be horribly misunderstood.  You find that some people have courtesies that must be respected and adhered to before you get on with the business at hand, and you are constantly exposed to many different possibilities on how to approach life’s complexities.

So what has all this to do with online networks and Facebook?  Fifteen years as an expat has changed me.  I’m not the person I was when we left our home country.  My online network habits will reflect that. Today I am ready to explore Facebook again. I still don’t like it, but I have subscribed again under a new email address, for professional purposes. It didn’t take them long to link me up (Facebook-style) with everyone (ever) in my life. (Creepy, how they do this.)  I hav just discovered an article that shows why Facebook can also contribute to insular approach with the latest tweak to their algorithm…to quote from it…

“…it means you’ll almost certainly see an even less diverse range of opinions and news than you already do.”

But if we are aware of this, we can help make the choice as to what we would like to see in our timeline. I took an hour to check privacy settings according to this article, and to explore the new user interface. If you want to follow me, you’re most welcome, but this is primarily an account for my librarianship interests. 😀

This time I have a career goal and I know where I’m headed. My view of the world is enlarged, so I’m going to let Facebook work for me, not against me. My interests now are libraries and their impact on society. And wonderful innovative librarians that I can learn from. And all things info!  Digital data! Techie stuff! Entrepreneurial ideas. Makerspaces. Social outreach. These will be the pages I follow. In Rudai23 Thing 5 , Bobbi Newman’s article  from a few years ago is listed, suggesting 6 Facebook pages for librarians to follow. These are still valid today, and I have chosen 4 of them to follow.  I will log onto Facebook when I have time on my hands and when the time is right, because I’m older, wiser and more at peace with myself and where I am. Admittedly, I still wish I was settled and not an expat, but until I am, I will use Facebook to reach out to connections that I can grow and learn from.

Moving on to the micro-blogging site Twitter…Twitter logo

…here is my fav!  I subscribed in 2011 and have thoroughly enjoyed the interaction.

Image by Matt Hamm  CC BY-NC 2.0

My twitter

Kay Oddone’s blog entry on Twitter brings its value across, as she encourages newbies to get tweeting.  For me personally, it is the most important go-to source for professional development.  Kay mentioned ‘lurking’ on Twitter until one is confident to add your voice – that is precisely what I did.  Here is how I commented on Kay’s article:

And speaking of ‘lurking’…I lurked until I was confident enough to find my voice. Not being able to have ‘librorum’ conversations face to face, Twitter filled that gap.

It has often taken me out of my isolated expat situation and is probably why I’m hooked! However, I’m constantly challenged to do, and to know, more by fellow professionals via Twitter, and always amazed at how much I discover each time I’m on the app. 🙂

It has been nothing but a positive experience for me. Yes, I made the odd mishap initially, by getting involved in political debates, and venting, but you learn fast. Within Kay’s article there was a link to some great ideas to tweet about, by George Couros, as well as a list of what NOT to tweet about.  (Remember the debacle with the unfortunate tweet by a PR Exec in 2013?)

Twitter chats are fun and really get you thinking. Remember, tweets are public and you are held accountable for what you say. I often worry that what I say is unimportant, or silly, but someone, somewhere in the world, is always kind, appreciative and encouraging. I follow and learn from librarians globally. Here are 9 of many accounts I recommend:  Liz McGettican, LWB_Online, Michelle Luhtala, Jan Holmquist, Sally Pewhairangi, Lyndelle Gunton, Gwyneth Jones, Bobbi Newman and my personal favourite, International Librarians Network. Look at their accounts and who they follow, to get ideas to build your own PLN (personal learning network).

In my opinion, with both Facebook and Twitter, you need to be yourself (be authentic), but act professionally if you want to be viewed as a professional. I know librarians can really let their hair down…(buns loose)… :p  but if you post a pic of yourself with that interesting cocktail, try to avoid the Miley-Cyrus-style hang out.  🙂

Miley Cyrus tongue out

Miley Cyrus by Paul Vera-Broadbent  (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Show your interests and interact with others as soon as you feel confident to do so. They will appreciate it. In fact, most people are very helpful and kind. Share your knowledge, show your skills; pass on interesting news and links you find; investigate the things you have not heard of before, and encourage and engage others. Your followers will grow and mutual learning takes place.

The world of Twitter is exciting and vibrant. I’ve just read an article that reveals Twitter will soon be rolling out an update to include emoticon stickers for photos, making it even more fun to connect to people and to collaborate.

emoticons

Emoticons by Becky McCray

CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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 rose_06   Clipart from Clipartheaven.com