Me and My Big Nose

Sometimes the ways different cultures see your physical features is like looking in a fun house mirror. All the sudden small features are big and big features are just well bigger. I have this nose. It isn’t a large nose but then again it isn’t a small nose either. It used to bother me. I used to want a small button nose and blue eyes Fun-House-Mirror-300x300more than anything. When I was pretty young I used to wish that my eyes would change colours and my nose would somehow morph into a button nose. If I was going to wish on shooting stars then maybe I should have been wishing for a few more inches height wise but no one ever accused 11 year girls of being rational.
Maybe adult women aren’t that rational when it comes to their appearance either. I have been hearing about this body dysmorphic disorder recently. The Better Health Chanel describes Body Dysmorphic Disorder as, “…a mental illness. People who have this illness constantly worry about the way they look. They may believe an inconspicuous or non-existent physical attribute is a serious defect…” This is a serious issue but the first time I heard about this disorder I thought, “Well isn’t that like all women?” So I started trying to list features I have that I really really like and I came up with about three and that was a real stretch. I mean I spent the vast majority of my teenage years worried about my hips and now it turns out booty is all the rage. I was born too early. It is really funny because if you asked me about any of my female friends I would say they are beautiful. If you asked me why I thought they were beautiful you probably couldn’t get me to stop talking about all the ways they are gorgeous. The men in their lives are lucky to have them.
But for me my nose was just one of those things that used to bug me once in awhile. I felt like it was a little too crooked and a little too “prominent” let’s say. That is how I felt when I went to China. It turns out China was exactly what I needed. Chinese people didn’t think my nose was “big”, they thought my nose was “high”. In China having a high nose is kind of a good thing. They have celebrities with high noses and they talk about how good looking they are. Eventually after overcoming how self-conscious I was about people talking about my nose all the time, I started to be OK with my nose. It was my nose and it gave me character and character is better than being a Barbie Doll any day. Once I started being comfortable with my nose I started being more comfortable with everything else. I realized that if a change of geography was all it took for my nose to be OK then it didn’t really matter what the other features looked like because somewhere some people would think they were good.
That is certainly what happened with hips after all. It is not as though I get up every morning, look in the mirror and say to myself, “You are one hot mama. Work it girl!” IBE025880t is more like I just don’t really think that much about it. I enjoy putting on make-up and wearing pretty clothes but I am comfortable in my skin. It is what it is.
I also always wanted a tan. Blame this one on the 80s and 90s as well. I wanted golden sun kissed skin. Again, in China my very pale skin was great. Not all my features were great in China and there was plenty of discussion about each feature. It was difficult when it felt like I had to convince an entire country that my hair really was naturally curly. It was also challenging when people thought I couldn’t be American because I was too short and Americans are tall people. The real clincher was when one woman pinched my hips to demonstrate how generous the padding was in that spot. What it taught me was that the way we perceive our physical features is like a fun house mirror. Going from one culture to another is like walking into a room of fun house mirrors. One second you’re tall and the next second you’re tiny. Your legs look like stilts in one mirror and then tree trunks in another. To borrow from a very famoArticle Lead - wide983354421mjoyrimage.related.articleLeadwide.729x410.1mjo42.png1428883185861.jpg-620x349us Disney movie maybe it is time we just let it go. Maybe we should just all look in the mirror and realise that each feature we don’t like is probably a feature someone somewhere else wishes they had. Did you know that in ancient Greece the unibrow was fantastic? If a woman didn’t have one then they would use black paint to fill one in.
I am me and each of my features expresses exactly who I am. I am short, which is so handy if you are also mischievous. My eyes crinkle up so much when I smile they almost disappear. That is good because when I am old everyone is going to know I laughed and smiled and loved my family. My hair is curly bordering on downright frizzy which is fine because I can’t really imagine mornings without my hair sticking up all over the place like Albert Einstein’s.
Have a big party with your friends and tell each other why you are beautiful inside and out. Tell your friends why you wouldn’t change even one of their physical features. Look up some of those fun cultures where exaggerated hips are prized. Remember you are not objective, whatever you see in the mirror it is filtered through a fun house mirror called culture.

Nurture Your Inner Adventurer-Becoming an International Teacher

China 1While the majority of people would admit teaching is a challenging job they wouldn’t really look at teachers as adventurist people. Deep inside most of us who teach is the inner adventurer who looks at our class with sparks in our eyes and thinks, “What can we accomplish this year?”

Deep in their heart most teachers nurture a wonderful sense of exploration. We want to take students to new places through books, science and history. We want to join our students on a journey of education and we see each child’s journey as a unique experience. We get an adrenalin kick from seeing students excel in new subjects and reaching children that haven’t been enjoyed school before.

There is more out there though. International teaching, whether it is at an international school or teaching a language like English, is a true adventure. I have eaten everything from delicious homemade pork dumplings to barbecued grasshopper. I have seen the great wall and learned to enjoy Korean food with my 218186_10150163925577852_5413126_nstudents. I have celebrated Mother’s Day by helping students make cards with mother written in as many different languages as you could imagine in one classroom. I have gone to educational conferences in Malaysia, Singapore and Beijing. I could continue with this list until I had no more room to write.

It is not only these experiences that made my time an adventure but also the times when I got lost in a taxi in the middle of nowhere and the times I had to travel to Hong Kong to renew my visa. The time I rode a train overnight to suffer through sub zero temperatures to see the Harbin ice festival for one day, before immediately hopping back on the night train so that I could return in time to teach the next day. I was not at my best teaching my class of five year olds that day!

The cream on top of every one of these experiences, during my time teaching in China, was my colleagues and friends. I could not have survived without them and they made everything that we went through together a great memory that we still laugh over whenever we have the chance to get together.

Should you take some time out for your own adventure and teach in an international context?

Of course! Not only will you experience great things but think of the richness you will be able to bring back to the classroom when you return to your home country. Especially for those who have been teaching for a while, it can bring some much-needed spirit back into your classroom. It can help every teacher understand the growing migrant population better.

From a career perspective, it can improve your resume and give you core skills that all employers are looking for. Think teamwork!

Can you take a family?288_16188737851_5952_n

Yes! The language experience and cultural learning is extremely valuable for everyone but most especially for children whose brains can develop long-term skills in language learning at an early age.

Picture yourself somewhere else… teaching!

What benefits do you feel international teaching has had for you? Add your thoughts to our comments below.

For more information on how we can help you find international teaching opportunities visit

Christa SmithWritten By Christa Smith, China Promotions Manager for Stacey College


Andy Murray impressed me today. He won a Grand Slam, the US Open. This in itself is an achievement. But what impressed me most was knowing that he has been in 4 previous Grand Slam finals and lost them all. If you are a tennis fan then you know that the Grand Slams have so much more honour and glory than all the other tournaments. Even though he is number 3 in the world, and won countless titles, he could not break through to win a Grand Slam. He made a decisive move in December 2011 by appointing past great Ivan Lendl as his coach. It turns out that Lendl also lost his first 4 Grand Slam titles before going on to be a dominant force in tennis for many years. With Lendl on his side he went on to loose the Wimbledon Final in front of his ever so hopeful home crowd. But now, on his 5th attempt, he has broken through! Faced with failure he did not back down, but armed himself with more support, persevered, and now has achieved victory. It’s inspiring!

What do you do when faced with failure? “Continuous effort-not strength or intelligence- is the key to unlocking our potential,” said Winston Churchill . We’re not all Andy Murrays and we are definitely not all going to win Grand Slam tennis matches. But we do all have strengths and gifts. Failure in these areas does not have to be the end. As we face inevitable obstacles let’s arm ourselves with more support, a better team, and prepare for the fight!

Learning a new language definitely takes perseverance. If you’ve been struggling with a new language for a while why not get Stacey College on your team and see if we can help you to victory!

Spring has Sprung in Perth

Perth’s weather is so beautiful that it is often hard to believe it is winter when the sun is shining and it is a mild 25 degrees. And if winter isn’t mild enough for you, spring always comes early. The daffodils blossom in August, sometimes July. They think it is spring because of all the beautiful sunshine.Now in late August it is obvious that Spring is here. My garden is full of flowers and bees. The everlastings are blossoming on the verges throughout the city. So what will you do this Spring? A traditional spring clean of the house? Always needed but not always fun. A picnic at Kings Park to enjoy the wild flowers, or Araluen to enjoy the tulips? Maybe like me you’ll just get out in the garden and take photos of your own flowers. Whatever you do, Perth is a great place to be.

Visual Calmness

Have you ever flicked through one of those magazines like Home Beautiful and wondered why your house doesn’t look like the houses featured on its pages? Even though reality tells me that a team of designers, stylists, photographers and editors have helped transform already incredibly beautiful homes into exquisite images of homes, some how the illusion that one can live like that continues. Experience tells me that even if my family did live in a house like the ones in that magazine it would not look like the images for long – because it would become lived in, and so it should.

So why do I continue to pursue tidiness? 

(1) It makes it easier to find things when they have a spot where they belong.

(2) Organisation is an important skill to practise and to teach to my children.

(3) I find it calming to walk into a tidy room.

I used to think that if I could just keep one room in the house tidy, then I could cope. At least I could leave the mess of the house behind and sit in that one room and relax, unwind, and not think about all the housework that needed to be done. Now that I have a husband, 3 kids, a dog, a cat and a new business even this seems out of reach. I can’t even keep my desk at home tidy because I share with my 3 children who invariably bring with them ‘stuff’ and leave it there.

So I don’t always have a tidy room, I don’t always have a tidy desk, where can I go for visual calmness? I have discovered a new corner of the house to bring a moment of calm and order – the cup cupboard. Now this may sound a little strange, but it works for me. I used to have a hotch potch of cups, mostly with chips and scratches. Lately I’ve splurged on 9 new mugs ($2 each from Coles!), 3 sets of 3. I take great pleasure in lining them up neatly, in their colours and rows, then selecting one and pouring myself a cup of tea. My love of stopping for a cup of tea is evident in the fact that one of my 2 year old’s first words was “hotta, hotta” followed closely by “hot tea, hot tea”. So my little corner of the house, the cup cupboard, affords me a moment of peace with its tidiness, in an often chaotic house.

Where do you find moments of peace in your day?

What images of calmness are around you during the day?


Resilience is a bit of an IN word at the moment. But I certainly think it deserves its moment in the sun.

Here are some definitions of resilience:

1. the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity: oxford dictionary

2. the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness: oxford dictionary

3. In less than a decade the term resilience has evolved from the disciplines of materials science and environmental studies to become a concept used liberally and enthusiastically by policy makers, practitioners and academics. It suggests an ability of something or someone to cope in the face of adversity – to recover and return to normality after confronting an abnormal, alarming and often unexpected threat. It is used alongside security to understand how governments, local authorities and the emergency services can best address the threats from terrorism, natural disasters, health pandemics and other disruptive challenges. Torrens Resilience Institute

4. Put simply, resiliency refers to the capacity of human beings to survive and thrive in the face of adversity. Resiliency Resource Centre

My family have had an opportunity to build up their resiliency muscles this school holidays. After 2 weeks of my youngest son being sick with the flu, the entire family came down with gastro. It was like a rolling wave of sickness that started with me, then gradually engulfed each member of the family, one after another. As I crawled out of bed, my husband was struck, then my daughter. My eight year old was nursing us all for a day before it struck him. Not my ideal family holiday. But amazingly there were positives in it. Adversity brings opportunity to develop excellent character traits. Who doesn’t want their kids to have compassion, be helpful, caring, unselfish, sacrificing, and serve others with love. The whole family being sick meant we all had to look after each other in new ways. We bonded as a family in a new way. We cared for and encouraged each other. I certainly don’t wish for another bout of gastro, but I recognise the value in fighting adversity together as a family. The joy that resilience brings when we all bounce back from illness and charge into our various pursuits. This life will certainly bring trials. We cannot avoid them. As Paul said in Romans “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character, hope”(Romans 5:3-4). Maybe resilience is the new way of understanding this old concept, that those who suffer, who are not defeated by it, can become stronger through it and develop those character traits that make them more able to succeed and prosper in life. So whether it is in your family and children, education, emergency services or whatever field you are in, resilience offers the perspective that says don’t be afraid of adversity, it just might teach you something!

Janet Stacey

I had a wonderful visit with my Grandma last week. She had put aside some photos and certificates to show me. This photo is from 1941 – the beautiful Janet Stacey, after whom the college is named. Another certificate is from 1933 when she graduated from business college. She had her heart set on being a teacher, but as a country girl she had started school late, and was then considered too old to train as a teacher. Her Grandma paid for her to go and spend a year at Business College instead.

Talking with Grandma, who is now 94, the fiercely independent spirit of the eldest child of 5, is still obvious. She told me how she would not marry the man everyone expected her to, how ‘Miss Stacey’ took no cheek from her boss, started learning the keyboard at 60 years old, and in her 70’s decided to study a Diploma of Christian Ministry. Fluent in French in her youth, Grandma could read it without translating it back into English. After retiring from managing a book shop for 8 years, she then went and did volunteer work in England. A love of learning and interest what other people think has kept her active her whole life.

I feel proud having a Grandmother who has maintained such a sense of dignity throughout a long and diverse life. I look forward to placing her photo and certificates on the wall in our new building (when we get it!).

Sushi: Keeping it all together

Tonight I made sushi for the first time. None of the males in the house (3 including my not even 2 year old) would go near it. My daughter, who had inspired this crazed attempt at a new recipe in the middle of the week, gave it a 6 out of 10. “I’m hard to please,” she said trying to compensate for my disappointment.

The real story behind sushi making is I got an idea, and ran with it. Sushi! Unfortunately there were a few things going against it. Whenever I am learning something new my anxiety levels go up exponentially. Mid week and I was tired. I knew all the males in the house would not be impressed. The whole family has had the flu for the past week and we are generally a little run down. Instead of starting early in the afternoon, and having everything ready to go, I spent the afternoon working at the computer, then tried to rush the sushi when my 2 year old was tired, hungry, and yelling “chicken” over and over again. A headache sprung up, I began to yell, and the utopia of sushi quickly collided with the reality of a Mum overload.

That shouldn’t surprise me. The delicate balance of keeping it all together is a constant theme for most women. If only we had some of that stretchy seaweed to wrap around all the parts of our lives, and draw them into a nice neat sushi package. But no, we struggle away. Kids pulling in one direction, work in another, marriage, family, friendships, goals, plans, hopes…

Some days are a win. Some days we’d rather forget. Over all keeping it all together is mostly fun as I enjoy the mix of flavours in my life, a little squished and compacted by pressure, but a nice package!

I have been featured on Katie Raspberry’s Creative Blog about Business – check it out…

Miniatures: nurturing creativity

My daughter has a talent for miniatures. She has been doing it for years and is only 10 years old. She makes miniatures out of many different things – here you can see photos of her work from modelling clay. It is a beautifully creative practice as it has come from her own initiative.

I believe creativity is an important resource in whatever industry you are in. It brings new perspectives and new ideas to old ways of doing things, it shakes off boredom, and brings pleasure to otherwise menial tasks. Encouraging creativity in the workplace benefits both the employee and the business.

What are the talents of your employees? Where does their creativity spontaneously shine? How can you as a manager encourage and nurture this?

When I watch my daughter making her miniatures I can’t help but wonder, “Will she become a sculptor, a cake decorator,  or a business woman?” But that is not the point of course. The point is that she is enormously creative, and that brings pleasure to all around her. I will always try to nurture that creativity as it will make her life richer and more rewarding.