Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Please, will you step on my toes

Yesterday I had a long conversation with a third year student from Industrial Technology, talking about the ten year history of PUCS. Never heard of them? The name is new but they have been around for 10 long years, untapped, unrecognised - because they cannot be registered under current policies which bars "raced-based societies or organisations" on campus. But that's another story. What was illuminating was that she told me straight in the face that "lecturer's life is boring". I had a good laugh. Then she said, "except the researchers". But she quickly observed that all the researchers she has seen at her school are walking around like zombies (my characterisation) with dark patches around their eyes. Not her kind of lifestyle. She's one of those students who look at life beyond books and grades. Every year, for ten years, their group has gone to the new villages, stayed with the villagers for one week, organised motivational camps for the school kids, bridged the generation gap between parents and children, educate them on recycling, collected money for charity and now they are volunteering at a home for special children (handicapped, if you are old school) to tuition them one-on-one. So, I here, today, pay tribute to the selfless USM students who have made a difference in the community - the Penang Undergraduates Community Service (PUCS). These student volunteers come from many different disciplines and schools.

Which brings me to the topic of this entry. Territory. A few days ago I was "dragged" to a meeting (I avoid most meetings these days). Apparently these guys were concerned that what they proposed to do would encroach on my "territory" as head honcho of Kampus Sejahtera. I know all about territory. I encroach into other's territory all the time. But I am not stupid. I know many managers don't look too kindly when you mind their business. My business however is to make it our business to mind their business. So far, I have been called up once by a dean for a slow talk about what I should or should not do. Essentially, not to shout so loud when I see mistakes, misguided actions or violations of policies. (BTW, starting 1st Jan 2010, Deans will be elected by his peers.) And I also know, from second-hand sources, that people talk behind my back. A couple of days ago, I saw a lady and guy chatting at the carpark. "Hi, prof", oops too late. So, I walked towards them. She smiled and said to the guy "This is the angry man, but today he is smiling". I know what she was talking about; I got irritated  about some form which was passed down from the VC to a professor who passed it to the staff who passed it to me! Well, never mind about the incessant bugging to fill the form, which I had to re-write, I got irritated about priorities. Anyway, that's history, so I said "nice car". "Thank you", she smiled.

Well, back to the meeting. I told them not to worry 'cause I have "given two months notice". So, don't worry about my small toes. Of course, there would be overlapping work. As long as the right hand knows what the left foot is doing, we should be fine. Afterall, we all serve the common good.

 This what I want to recreate in my garden. Informal, exuberant, colourful. Place : Sinaia, a hill resort in Romania. Where I will be in December 2009. I know, more carbon.
Also taken in Sinaia at the street fair. Maybe we should have volunteers walking around the campus with The White Coffin on the apron. Any takers?

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