The first photo of me was taken in 1972 and the second in 2014. I wasn’t the photographer however I thought the photos were good contenders for this week’s topic of change :-).
“Whether it’s reading or writing, literacy is an outlet to an untouchable world – your imagination. Not only is literacy a basic human right, it is a fundamental building block for learning as well as a personal empowerment tool. It is the catalyst for social and global progress.” (from http://internationalliteracyday.org/ )
International Literacy Day was held on 8 September 2015. It is a good time to remember that some people have difficulty with the following:
- reading a medicine label
- filling out a job application form
- reading a bank statement
- understanding government policies and processes
- assisting their children with their homework
- and so much more.
When I trained as a literacy tutor I found out that nearly 50% of Australians struggle to read well enough to meet the complex demands of everyday life. This can impact on their independence, physical and mental health and their job prospects. No small matter!
People with low literacy levels can become adept at hiding their problems by making excuses about forgetting to bring their glasses or asking other people to help them. They may scribble words they cannot spell to disguise it. I confess I do this sometimes as well!
When I lived in the Kimberley region of Western Australia I worked with adult Aboriginal women who were keen to learn English. They could converse in their own language but English wasn’t their first language.
It was a watershed moment for me at Election time. I realized how vulnerable they were to being duped into voting for someone who did not represent their best interests. This was when I realised the relationship between literacy, power and equality.
This prompted me to advocate on the need for access to literacy skills to empower people to make their own decisions for their own best interests.
How can I recapture the enthusiasm I once had to make a difference in the world? Have I changed and become complacent with my good fortune. I remember times when I was younger when I really believed in something – I put all my energies towards making a difference. Perhaps I was idealistic.
Today I have the time and the resources to do something worthwhile but cannot seem to capture the passion I used to have. I seem to have an excuse for every idea I come up with. A lot of it has to do with my lack of trust that my effort will meet its desired outcome.
There is no less need in the world today than when I was younger. I find it hard to trust charities and fear that my contributions may evaporate in keeping the Western administration afloat.
I have a strong belief that literacy is important in achieving equality in our society. I have trained as a tutor however there hasn’t been any demand of late for my tutoring.
I am supportive of the rights of Indigenous Australians but what can I do there to make a difference? The issues are very complex and I risk being a white ‘do-gooder’.
The current refugee crisis calls out for our help. How can we be of help without just contributing financially? (and considering my lack of trust in charities …). I can sign online petitions and I do that when I can.
I also see many people in our community at, or around retirement age, with many skills and lifetime experience who would welcome the opportunity to do something constructive with their time and skills. How can we harness this resource for the better of our community?
Lots of questions but not many answers. Maybe I kid myself and just think of these issues but am really complacent in my comfortable space. If only I could reignite some passion to make a difference in our world!
I love learning new things. My most recent ‘new thing’ is learning how to write feature articles. It is online learning through the Australian Writers Centre. It is a great course and I am getting a lot out of it.
One exercise was to interview a fellow student and write a profile about them. I paired up with Miranda from Queensland and we agreed to a Skype interview. We stuck to the ten minutes recommended and it was really interesting.
Miranda emailed me after the Skype session and asked if she could interview me again about what ‘legacy’ meant to me. I had a few days to think about it. I became aware of how little thought I had given to what my legacy is, or would be, after I am gone.
If you would like to read what Miranda wrote, here is the link to her site and the article Red Hat Chronicles.
I hope you enjoy it and maybe think a little about what your legacy might be :-).