19 February 2013

Journey to Middle-earth

I think the biblical scholars have it wrong when they propose that the Garden of Eden was located between the Tigris and the Euphrates. I’ve just returned from a driving tour of the South Island of New Zealand, and I’m pretty sure that’s the real Eden.

I’ve been to the North Island previously and, while I had been told the South was even more beautiful, it was hard to imagine in advance what I actually saw once there. Followers of the movie trilogies, “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings,” based on books with the same titles by J.R.R. Tolkien, will understand that the South Island of New Zealand is “Middle-earth,” as all of the movies have been filmed there.

Of course, as all movies do, the videographers have toyed with nature and created imaginary scenes that aren’t really there; but the majesty of the mountains, the purity of the water—and its often-turquoise color—is not video editing. It is a simply amazing place! Top that off with the exciting adventure of seeing fur seals, yellow-eyed penguins, albatross and sperm whales in their own habitats, in nature without fences (other than to keep people out) and it makes for one bang-up trip.

It is not easy to get to New Zealand, which may explain how it stays pristine and minimally affected by man, but it is certainly worth the effort to get there. I heartily recommend it to anyone wanting to experience the freshest air, purest water, cleanest towns and friendliest people you are likely to see anywhere on earth.

Back here in Karachi
I don’t consider myself a teacher. I’ve shared information before with colleagues, as we all do, but teaching as an occupation is something I’ve never felt drawn to or suitable for. The consulate has embarked on a program to improve English skills of willing employees, using a combination of professional and volunteer teachers. I am a volunteer.

Every Wednesday from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., two other volunteers and I look into the eager faces of 43 gentlemen with varying English skills ranging from none to minimum, and we try to teach and encourage them. We have a syllabus for beginning English, which seems rather advanced to me, as it assumes some previous introduction to English words. We play games with them to instill the desired idea. For example, we demonstrate walking forward and walking backward, and we try to help them understand the difference between “I am Karachi” and “I am from Karachi.”

First, we worked on was greetings. We pointed out, for instance, that the answer to “Good morning” is not “Fine,” which is the common response we receive to greetings given on the compound. It is a particular joy when we can see by our students’ expressions that the light bulb has gone on, and they really get the difference. The excitement is contagious, because local employees seek out English speakers with whom to practice their newfound skills. It has added levity between us that did not exist before and, in a place such as Karachi, where life is mostly tense, this is a very good thing.

One of my fellow teachers explained to our class that, in the United States, we do not usually address colleagues using Miss and Mister plus their first name. (She is obviously not from the Deep South.) She encouraged the students to call us by our first names, as we do each other or, if they believed a more formal approach was necessary, to use Miss or Mr. and the last name.

A few days later, one of the young members of the class, who is working very hard on improving his English, pulled me aside for a chat. He repeated what the other teacher had said about addressing people and then said to me, “I have respect for you and, because you are an old woman, I must call you Ms. Judie. Is that okay?”

Next, I think we will work on political correctness!

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.


  1. Love the pictures! It looks beautiful!

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