Aussie Loh Family
  June 2009

I have managed to survive my first semester in the Graduate Diploma in Education. It has been a long slog with many distractions from the aftermath of the Bushfire to occupy my mind. Here is a summary of what happened:

I have received several grants from the Bushfire Appeal. The first was an initial sum to cover immediate costs arising from being displaced by the fires. The second one was for the loss of a home which was followed up by the Department of Human Services paying our rent for a period of four weeks. The third one came in to help replace the loss of contents. Then the Department of Human Services extended the payment of our rent to 26 weeks as well as providing some relief funding to pay for the higher winter bills. These funds came from both Federal and State Governments as well as generous donations from Australians and others here and overseas. In addition to these, the Salvation Army, Kmart, CityLife Community Centre, Bethesda Chapel Lorong Melayu in Singapore and many many generous friends here and overseas has provided much needed funds and household items to help us in rebuilding our lives. Centrelink, the social security agency, has also designated a case officer to look after us in case we have other needs. One of Rachelle's classmates, organised for her to obtain a brand new flute and a music students in a neighboring school in a little town called Euroa raised some funds to help pay for Raph and Rach's music lessons for the rest of the year. It seems that there is enough even to pay for their music tour to New South Wales at the end of the year! The students of Scotch College, a private school in Melbourne, also collected funds to help students at Rach and Raph's school, Alexandra Secondary College, to defray some of the costs in the loss of stationary and text books. Fortunately, most of the books were in the school lockers and the only ones missing were the ones they brought home for homework. The Education Department provided new school uniforms, both summer and winter ones. Just a week ago, Circus OZ gave us, Bushfire victims, a free show in Melbourne and even provided free transportation for us all. It was a great night eventhough I suffered from motion sickness all the way there and back! The local caravan park, Blue Gum Caravan Park, also contributed by letting Raph and myself to stay there overnight before moving into our new rental in Eildon. We have certainly been overwhelmed by the generosity, love and care from all the people around us, so much so that we can never repay them nor do we have enough words to show our appreciation. 

R n R:
They are in good health and staying with the school in Alexandra turned out to be a wise move as that is really the only thing that is familiar in their present circumstances. There has been good support for them in the school with the advocacy teachers allowing them to talk about their experiences and feeling concerning the fires. Most of the teachers were good in allowing them some leeway in missed assignments and the amount of work required of them for the rest of the semester kept their minds busy, which is a good thing. Musicwise, Rachelle was involved in the Bandemonium's activities as usual. The band played the opening act for a concert by a famous local guitarist at the Alexandra Town Hall. Rach has decided to concentrate on her flute, thus giving up the French Horn, though she's still interested in the Piccolo. Raph has taken up saxophone. Rach helps him a lot in practicising and he recently had his first concert performance in the Junior Band! Rach together with three other students from Marysville were invited back there last week to plant some trees for the future of the town. That was very special for her and her friends who have also lost everything on Black Saturday. Raph had a class excursion to Healesville Sanctuary.

Graduate Diploma in Education:
I have completed the first round of teaching and survived. I was posted to an independent Christian school called Waverley Christian College. I spent most of time there teaching five classes, three year 7s and two year 8s, in Biblical Studies. I was also involved in a year 7 and year 10 English class as well as a year 10 and 12 Text and Traditions class. This has been a great time of learning for me. My supervisors were very pleased with the way I taught. It seems that I do have the gift of teaching. But the one thing I really picked up on was class room management. The first class I taught was fantastic. The students were attentive and could follow what I was teaching. Maybe because it was the second period of the morning, they were less energetic. But my next class was a total disaster as the students were all over me. Being the last period of the day did not help. My supervisor gave me some good tips in managing the students which I implemented in the next few classes, and sanity prevailed. I really enjoyed the experience and ended with a great desire to have my own 'kids' to look after, influence and teach. What a privilege that would be. My supervisor was quite impressed with me and immediately offered to act as my referee when I applied for a job next year. Besides the actual practice of teaching, there were still assignments to complete and lectures to attend. In total, I managed to complete them all, two for Secondary Pedagogy, two for Synthesis and Reflection, three for Teaching Children with Diverse Abilities, four for Teaching and Learning, one for English as a Second Language and four for Text and Traditions! There have been many times when I thought I could not cope as I was feeling exhausted both physically and emotionally but the Lord carried me through. Thank you to all of you who have been praying for me. The four to five hour drive everyday certainly took its toll.

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