The thing about being unemployed is…sooner or later, you have to find employment. So for the past few days, I have running around University Town, trying to get administrative details such as staff passes, office keys and the all-important how-to-pay-me mechanics settled.
It’s a part-time job and I have a title : Journalist-in-residence. Ahem. Now I am wondering what to do as Journalist-in-residence…But hey, the place is real nice. I am based in Tembusu College. College, mind you, not hall. In fact, this is getting constantly drummed into me…that it’s NOT a hostel like the one I spent three years in many moons ago. It is a place for intellectual engagement…and there is plenty. There is a cosmopolitan hotch-potch of fellows who conduct seminars and run activities for the students, seminars with strange sounding names because they seek to combine various disciplines. On the nature of blindness (not just cannot see), humanising technology, being human and post-human. All sounds very esoteric but have a practical objective: getting students to think critically and to see links, join dots and derive conclusions. I was supposed to conduct one too, but a bureaucratic snafu put paid to that idea. I wanted to run a seminar on the craft of journalism and critical reading. Until last week, I thought I was being real prescient! I mean, so much fuss with the Media Literacy Council going on and there was I doing a seminar on the messages in the medium. Students can be assessed in several ways (no exams!) and one Fellow (note capital) actually had an interesting method: Having the students keep a scrap book in which they jot down their thoughts and observations of every lesson.
All very new. And very brave of NUS to pioneer a new learning lifestyle for undergraduates. It can be pretty jialat for them I think. They have to attend college programmes before or after classes in the main campus. Thinking back to my uni days, I don’t know how many times I couldn’t get myself up for regular classes, because I was too busy playing into the night…Life was so, so full of fun, fun, fun. Now I wonder what I will say to those who turn up late for MY classes, or do not turn up at all. There’s no way to hide because class size is small which makes absenteeism very visible.
So now I have been asked to conduct masterclasses in aspects of journalism. Perhaps, I was lucky. That syllabus for the seminar totally stressed me out, because it had to fit certain academic standards. I will be getting a softer landing, teaching a subject that I had been teaching to practitioners for more than 10 years. I have great plans to make the best of my stay in Tembusu, helping interested students hone their thinking, questioning, reporting and writing skills. I will make journalism Jedi Knights out of them!!!! Yeah!
PS. I wrote the above to explain my absence over the past few days. In fact, Bertha Harian is probably mis-named. Bertha Minggu?