Good news, bad news, and something to look forward to in 2021!

In the last semester of my PhD, I was auditing an advanced graduate seminar in psycholinguistics in which the professor began the three-hour meetings with the same exercise her children’s elementary school teachers used to do: “a rose, a thorn, or a bud.” The basic premise was to give students a choice to share one of three things: (1) some good news, (2) some bad news, or (3) something they were looking forward to. Not surprisingly, that class had a very good vibe as we shifted in and out of the personal and built a learning community. Coincidentally, this was spring 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit North America, but I believe the exercise has value under any circumstances.

This is my second personal reflection post of the blog I started in Dec. 2020, and I am going to share a rose, a thorn, and a bud.

The rose is that my husband and I went to Nan Lian Garden near the Diamond Hill MTR station and enjoyed the pavilions, the vast koi pond with koi so large we wondered how old they were, the timber art museum with miniature renditions of historic Buddhist nunneries and monasteries (there is, in fact, a real nunnery and a real monastery on the grounds, where visitors cannot take pictures), the bonsai museum and the indoor rock garden. I will let the photos speak for themselves!

The thorn is that I am conducting undergraduate interviews for HKU as well as viewing videoclips of applicants for the teacher certification program. The coordinator enlisted the help of additional staff like me due to the spike in applications this year, because COVID-19 led to so many young locals to lose their jobs in the airline and travel and tourism industries. Looking through the application videos in the section (full-time primary) that I am helping with, I see we have 200 applicants vs. 20 spots. I do not know how these young people are going to cope or what their other options are. I feel so bad for them as I am obliged to recommend roughly 1 in 10 candidates.

The bud is that I am very excited for the 2021 HKCPD Conference for university English teachers in early January. There are so many famous speakers and state-of-the-art abstracts that it reminds me of the AAAL conference. Best of all, it will actually happen live over 3-4 days, allowing for real-time interaction and presence. We are instructed to follow the guidelines for attendees to treat it like a real conference: no bed in the background (made or unmade), dress in your work/school clothes, etc. I am typically guilty of being more casual on Zoom, but I am glad we are developing online conference netiquette in respect to presenters.

There… I have shared a rose, a thorn, AND a bud (typically, students in a class are asked to pick one). I hope to see many of my friends and colleagues in person in 2021!

Published by annamend

Assistant Professor in the Department of Linguistics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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