Hello colleagues! As many of my readers live in the Northern Hemisphere braving storms or encountering travel delays in the winter climates, I thought it worth reminding some that here in the South Pacific we are just coming to the end of summer! Perhaps it is more accurate to say that while summer weather is likely to continue until after Easter, the school summer holidays ended during the last week of January. After a six-week Christmas-New Year break, most New Zealand children and young people (and families) are settling back into the routines of formal education and classroom learning. I send warm greetings at the end of our summer holidays!
Isn’t it interesting how time-tabling in Western countries uses marker events for school and formal socialisation taken from the Christian calendar?! Did you know that Ash Wednesday comes up soon?
Grandmother, mother & children outside Changsha flat
Readers elsewhere in the world will be preparing for family activities that commemorate the end of the Chinese Year of the Snake and the beginnings of the New Year of the Horse. Over the 12th, 13th and 14th of February, a significant proportion of the world's peoples will welcome in the New Year. Here in Wellington, the Chinese students living at Weir House are required to attend class and complete exams, regardless of the significance of this occasion. Do you think the signs will be auspicious for a Chinese student sitting an examination in a Western centre of education on the afternoon when the New Year of the Horse is welcomed? Do we ever stop to think about such things when considering time and the structuring of time for children or young people with whom we work professionally or as foster parents?
Colleagues and friends at Changsha Social Work College
Some of the world's attention is likely to focus this month on the plight of refugee children and young people living in Australian refugee detention centres. These young people and their families are detained indefinitely while the Australian Government awaits outcomes in the US-led military campaign against those who challenged the dominant world-view of social and economic affairs. Many of the children and young people living in Australian detention centres are of Afghani or Iraqi ancestry, both countries on President Bush's list of “official baddies". It would seem that in the case of the former group, the Howard Government is waiting to see whether refugees can be returned to Afghanistan by removing their legal case for political refugee status! How might you compare quality of life prospects for children and young people living in Afghanistan and Australia over the next decade?
Let’s also remember the plight of children and young people living near the site of the volcanic eruption in Goma, Republic of the Congo, and also those orphaned in Lagos, Nigeria where the military arms depot in the middle of the city blew up. Try comparing the number of casualties in the September 11 disasters with these recent events that occurred in the Third World. In numbers” terms, there is no comparison.
Let’s all “saddle up" in readiness for eventful encounters during The Year of the Horse! Happy “Groundhogs' Day"!