november 16, 2000
the most recent dispatch from the field... (more)
catch up on previous news postings... (more)
Sign up to get email reminders when there is new news... (more)
nov 08, 2000
Wine, Horse Races, Roos on the Ridge and, yes! a bit of work... (more)
nov 05, 2000
3 B's Tour east of Canberra: Bywong, Braidwood, and Batemans Bay... (more)
nov 03, 2000
A day at the galleries... (more)
nov 02, 2000
Meetings at CIT and attending an online conference ... (more)
oct 30, 2000
CIT, Canberra, and sights seen ... (more)
oct 26, 2000
Landing in Oz, drive to Canberra, and a Kangaroo welcome ... (more)
Hmmm, there is an entire week's worth of activities to update... where has the time gone? Last Friday I boarded a bus from Canberra that drove 2 hours to Cootamundra. I transferred to a train for a trip south to "Wagga Wagga", the town so good, it is named twice. Actually, "Wagga" (locals only say one Wagga) is the largest inland Australian city.
Here I met up with Gail and Paul, both information technology (IT) head teachers at the Riverina TAFE Institute of New South Wales. I met them both last January in Phoenix as part of an international exchange between our Maricopa system and the TAFE here. For the past few years, Maricopa has sent over a team of faculty members in June for a visit and Riverina has sent teams over in January.
Paul provided a quick tour of the Wagga Wagga campus, where runs the IT program in a nice new facility that also shares space with the tourism and hospitality program. The latter features a full service restaurant with a state of the art culinary kitchen. The Wagga campus also features a number of trade programs in automotive repair and painting, welding, carpentry, hairdressing, and other vocational fields.
today's photos - all photos o o o o
o o Riverina TAFE
o o New South Wales sights
Next, Gail drove me south to her home in Albury, where she is the head IT teacher at the Albury TAFE campus. More college activities were planned for the following week, but the weekend had been set up for a white water raft trip on the Upper Murray River, in the Snowy Mountains. We left with a group of Albury TAFE staff and students for a 2 hour drive to Khancoban, a small town with a hotel, pub, and a camp ground. We met the folks from the Rapid Descents Raft company, got fitted up in our wet suits, and took off for another ride even higher into the forest.
Unfortunately there are no photos to show since this was a wet and wild trip and it was drizzling rain most of the day. But it was a blast of a trip, 4 hours of rowing and crashing through class 2 to 4 rapids on a river that cut its way through a gorge and heavy bush country. That evening we stayed in the Motor Inn and sampled the night life of the local pub, a real down home experience full of shouting beers.
Monday I gained a ride back to Wagga Wagga, enjoying a trip with Dave, a TAFE counselor, who regaled me with a stream of Ozzie down home expressions like "colder than a step-mothers kiss" or "useless as a one legged man at an ass-kicking contest" and taught me a few other ones I cannot repeat on this page. Then there is the whole culture of "utes" or souped up utility trucks, emblazoned with decals and sayings worthy taking in. Dave drove quickly through a back roads route to Wagga, pointing out some of the road side humorous things Ozzies set up, like a dog house with a stuffed occupant and all of the trimmings. Or taking a wrecked car (or ute!) and hoisting it high into the trees. Just anything to make a passing driver chuckle.
Monday I spent time visiting with a number of the IT staff at the Wagga campus, which provides technical support across the Riverina TAFE system. The area this covers is very large with 17 locations and some of them fairly remote areas, and this department covers it with 9 people. I shared an interested time speaking with Brian, who provides instructional support for faculty, seeing how he works with them to create simple but useful digital video they can incorporate into their courses. That evening I joined Paul as he hosted and provided a presentation for the local Rotary club, an interesting turn out of local business guys.
On Tuesday I visited the Wagga Wagga campus of Charles Sturt University where I chatted with Geoff Fellows, a long time IT instructor who teaches at both CSU and the Wagga Wagga TAFE. I sat in on one of Geoff's lectures and then learned how he is using a technology called "Zope" for creating online learning experiences for his students.
Another worthy feature at CSU is their National Wine & Grape Industry Centre, where students learn the wine making process from growing grapes to bottling and marketing, and everything in between. I felt compelled to purchase (and later share/consume) a nice 1999 dry Riesling.
Wednesday was the start of a two day tour of some other TAFEs in the Riverina Institute. Gail drove up from Albury and met Paul and I. Our first stop was the Narrandera campus, where we got to chat with staff and students. One of the highlights was a walk through the art studio where Bob and Rosalind teach Aboriginal Art, a colorful and symbolic display of rich images. Classrooms throughout this small campus display more art and decorated carved boomerangs. Other classes were busy with nursing students, child care, and computer graphics.
Next, we moved on to the Leeton TAFE campus, a bit bigger than Narrandera with a greater emphasis on trades such as machining, welding, electric systems, etc. John, the campus director, was an enthusiastic and proud guide. He showed a new computer classroom that is situated between the metal shop and the welding area, explaining how students learn to design machine templates on the computer, that can then be used immediately in the shop to create the designed parts. John was emphatic about the time savings over the "old" way of drawing plans on paper making complex calculations. The business computing area has a lovely set up, with computers on one side and a flexible use classroom adjoining.
After this campus tour we headed to the town of Griffith, an upscale town in the heart of wine making country, mostly inhabited by descendent of early Italian settlers. Here we sampled a special evening meal at L'Oasis, featuring locally grown/raised vegetables and beef. We also got to sample extensively 8 varieties of wine from Lilly Pilly estate and Toorak wineries.
Thursday morning we got a wonderful tour of the brand new Wine and Food Technology Center at the Griffith TAFE campus. It is a state-of-the art facility for teaching wine analysis, food testing, and other activities associated with the "consumable" industry. The place gets a lot of use from the local businesses, either for training or special events/tastings.
Moving on we drove into some much more remote country, beyond the last cultivated fields, into the bush land. The shy here is big and wide, and in areas the red earth and the scrubby trees are almost a spitting image of the views on the road to Payson, Arizona, which I know well. Our target was Murrin Bridge, a fascinating settlement of Aboriginals who are taking a small amount of external assistance to develop their community. The Riverina TAFE is providing educational opportunities and development consultancy
We had a great tour by an energetic Ian, the director of programs. There is some excellent local artistry though we sadly missed meeting Lindsay but did get to take a Look at the fantastic colored themes on the water tanks which you can peruse from a separate small slide show. The community is looking at a tremendous success with its first crop of wine producing grapes, which due to the climatic conditions here, can be available much earlier in the season than elsewhere.
From here it was more visits to other TAFE campuses at Lake Corgelligo, West Wyalong, and Temora, all small learning facilities staffed by dedicated and openly friendly people, glad to greet a big eyed American!
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