We Are All Priceless

We are all priceless 2I know people like Obama, J Lo and Clinton have a brand. Tony Abbott’s brand would have to include the famous budgie smugglers. Bob Hawk’s would include his beer skulling skill. There is an outlet centre here in Perth that asks as part of its advertisement, “What is your brand?” So clever and insidious. All the sudden you are thinking about yourself solely in terms of the toothpaste you use and the shoes you wear. You are adding up each piece of merchandise you buy and determining that the sum of the parts equals the whole you.
I have been taking this Marketing for Managers class and either it is messing with my head and making me paranoid or everywhere we go marketing teams are adding us up and slotting us into a nifty niche to determine where we fit in their campaigns. It is called market segmentation and basically it breaks us down into brands we buy, values we have, our age, our geographical location etc… I was talking to one of our professors about this the other day and he said I was a freak. He said it in a much nicer way because he is a very nice man but, yeah, I am a freak when it comes to trying to break me down to my parts and add me up. Why? Because I like to read labels, I like to know if there is citric acid is in my cereal. I don’t know what citric acid is but I still want to know whether or not this crazy little chemical is in my food. I want to know whether my coffee is rainforest certified, fair trade or organic. There are other things that make me unusual apparently. Things I wasn’t aware of, like the fact that my husband and I like to watch three different news broadcasts every evening. Overall though, I wasn’t surprised I was unusual or, as the professor described it, “a purchaser who lies on the periphery.”  I embarrassed my mother enough as a child to know that the way my brain works is a little bit wondrous and scary all at the same time. I called my first headache a brainache and refused to use the proper word because I felt it did not accurately describe my suffering.

We are all priceless 4
It is not as if the idea is new. The saying “You are what you eat” has been around for ages. Paying celebrities to promote brands is an age-old marketing ploy. The idea that we are a brand is attractive to a lot of us.The funny thing is I am not saying we aren’t a brand but if we are, maybe the brand shouldn’t be made up of things that can be purchased with money. We have a friend in China who can fix absolutely anything. He is magic. He cannot be replicated or broken down according to the tools he uses or the overalls he wears. I guess if someone was to ask what my brand is, I hope the answer would be so much more than my jacket or my shoes or the suburb I live in. Intangibles are what makes up all of us and it is a shame if we fall into a trap that convinces us that merchandise is what we are all about.
You are what you eat, or study, or the clothing you wear, but truthfully we are worth so much more than the sum of our purchasing parts. I hope I am worth a thousand hugs from two wonderful boys, love given and received from friends around the world, the wisdom that has been shoved into my brain by many We are all pricelesshardworking mentors, the look in my husband’s eye when he sees me after a long day of work and so many other priceless parts. By the way, no matter what a certain credit card company says, not one part of those things can be purchased with money. When I look at my friends I don’t care about their jackets, but I love their honesty and their smile when they see me. I don’t look at a house and see a sofa that is custom-made or a sofa that was passed on from a relative. What I see is a sofa that we sit on and drink coffee while we chat. What I see is good times and memories.
What has changed about the way marketers break us down is that they have access to so much more information about us. They can keep track of what we buy and where we go. The interesting thing is that even though they have all of this information and the new ability to use the information so much more effectively, marketing campaigns still fail. They fail spectacularly to the tune of millions of dollars spent by massive corporations that should have been able to predict our purchases much more accurately. They fail because our intangibles, the stuff that really makes up our “brand” is not quantifiable information that can be put into a spreadsheet. How wonderful is that?
So today celebrate the priceless you. Come on let me hear you say it with me, “I am more than the label on my undies!” Well maybe that is a little embarrassing. Instead why not comment and tell us one of the things that makes you priceless?

 

Waiting to Exhale- Inside the mind of a Semi- Bilingual

You may catch me sometimes looking atMixed Flag you blankly, hesitating for several beats before I answer your question or finish the sentence I just trailed off in the middle of. You may have already started your next thought and moved on without me. Forgive me, but the truth is I am still trying to figure out whether to call it a wardrobe, a dresser or a gui zi柜子. My mind is stuck in a hamster wheel flashing up other options that might work as well. The problem is that one of those words has the best meaning but the person I am talking to probably wouldn’t understand it. So here I am, holding my breath and waiting for the word to come out, and here you are, trying to pretend that I am not odd or an airhead or at the least just a little ditzy. In some instances I will just use the wrong word for the language I am speaking at the time, and if you wait for it I may remember to translate for you when it finally clicks that you have no idea what I just said. This process makes me look even more ditzy because I should be able to remember what language I am speaking, right?

I am not really bilingual, and if you want to know the truth I am not even biEnglishgual. Yep, you caught me, that is not a word. If in doubt I like to make it up as I go along. Try to keep up because my mind is a bumpy ride. So is it a clothespin or a peg? Or a i_talk_to_myself_in_2_languages_kid_s_t_shirt-r581602a7953b4888b0479cc8c85dac3b_wio57_324clothes peg? Is it a laundry powder or laundry detergent or washing powder? The English isn’t even really the problem. It is just incredibly entertaining for you because in those instances when my mouth doesn’t wait for my brain to catch up, you to hear me rattle off every word I can think of that might fit until you nod and say, “Yes that is it, I know what you mean.” My good friends do this because they know they have to eventually indicate which word is the right one for Australia or else I will just keep going. Sometimes I think they let me keep going as long as they do because it amuses them to watch me try. Some of the words I come up with are way off base. Did you know a brad in the US is a split pin in Aussie land? Those words have no relation what so ever.

Chinese, that other language that I semi speak but am completely illiterate in, is the real issue. It’s the issue because there are so many of my thoughts, that after 12 years of living there, I must express in Chinese. You think I am talkative, verbose and overwhelming? Imagine if you could hear the 30% of my thoughts that are kept quiet because the entire sentence can only be expressed in Chinese. Oh boy, would you love that joke or appreciate the irony if only you knew what the heck I was saying. Imagine how much more articulate I am when I don’t stop breathing in the middle of a thought because the last half of the thought was in Chinese and now I have to translate it or explain it.20507975064be68c6999116 You might find me understandable. You might think I was humorous. Well maybe not because I never really mastered the art of a joke in Chinese. I want to tell you I have a gege 哥哥, not a brother, because then you would know without any further explanation that he is my older brother. I want to tell you that that problem I am having is well meibanfa 没办法 .  This has so much more meaning than just no solution because it indicates there will never be a solution and all hope is lost. I feel this way when dealing with websites and html. Another word that comes to me when I think of html is ma-fan麻烦. It means trouble or stress or both rolled into one. Hard to translate but sheer joy to apply when you are at the end of your rope. And when you are leaving my house after I have complained about all of the above, I want to say man-zou 慢走 because it kind of means take your time leaving but it also dayton chinesemeans I care and because I care I say man-zou not just see ya. If you are born into a single language family, then all your thoughts and feeling take place in that language. Like me, you may not realize that there are a bunch of other thoughts, feelings and ways to describe things until you start to learn your second language. Once that other language and culture becomes part of you, it becomes very difficult not to express that other language and culture. It becomes, for me, like holding your breath and containing all those other descriptions and thoughts that are running through your head.

By the way if you are bilingual and would like to own one of the t-shirts in the picture above, you can find them and many more items for bilingual families at Bilingual Style.

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 http://staceycollege.com/employment/international-teaching-opportunities/.

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

Pretty Pinterest

If you haven’t discovered  yet, you are in for a treat! It is a virtual pinboard where you can organise and share beautiful things you find on the web. People use it for all sorts of reasons. Here at Stacey College we are collecting images of every country in the world. So far we have a board for 60 countries… only about 133 to go!

We also have boards for collecting language learning resources for English, Mandarin, Malaya and Indonesian.

Then just for fun we have “Christmas around the world” and “Weddings around the world”.

Check us out at  http://pinterest.com/staceycollege/– but be careful, you might just get hooked on pinning too!

Digital Natives & Dinosaurs

Whether we are in the digital age or the post digital age makes no difference if you are a dinosaur. What you need to do is find yourself a native who can show you around the new land.

If you have children you’ll know how intuitively they seem to interact with technology. Not only do they know how to work all your current technology, but the minute you bring home something new they will be able to figure out how to use it. A little humility goes a long way for the dinosaur who, with a younger mentor, can soon adapt and learn the digital ways.

So why even bother with the whole social media thing? A few stats to persuade you…(from Deloitte Social Media Report 2012)

Australian social media users:

13 Million Facebook (who spend approx. 8.8 hours per week)

11 Million You Tube

3.8 Million Blogspot

1.6 Million WordPress

2 Million LinkedIn

1.8 Million Twitter

13 Million facebook users in a population of 22 million is rather a significant number.

And that is why Deloitte says “YOU CAN’T IGNORE IT. JOIN IN.”

You don’t have to look far to see the effects of DIGITAL DISRUPTION in the marketplace. Industries to be disrupted include music, entertainment, retail, advertising, education…

The more you get on board the digital revolution the less likely you are going to be left behind, or wake up to your methods or product suddenly obsolete.

So where do you start?

Start with something fun! Do you like talking – try twitter. Do you like keeping in touch with people – try facebook. Photos – Instagram. Learning – blogs or check out TED talks. Organising (or looking at pretty things) – Pinterest Presentations – prezi Making movies – You Tube 

Once you start learning how to use one thing, it makes it easier to learn the next. Before you know it you’ll be helping other dinosaurs adapt to the digital age.