It's been several months since my last post, and much has happened!
I presented at the VASTA conference in Singapore last summer, my first time to visit anywhere in Asia. It was great to present my work to other professionals, and get some perspective on not only where my work has come from and can go to, but also in confidence and ownership over it. I was pessimistic about surrounding myself with a lot of, mostly American, voice teachers for an intensive week or workshops and seminars, but it certainly paid dividends. It was also a relief to discover that many of my misgivings about current voice practise are shared by a great many other practitioners across different sectors. Those who loathe guruism and doctrine fear not - we are not alone (albeit we are in a minority)!
I don't generally fly very much. I didn't fly anywhere until I was 25 years old, and only then because I had to because getting to Bahrain otherwise would have meant travelling through Iran (long visa process), Saudi Arabia (very difficult), or Sudan/Eritrea/Djibouti (very dangerous). If you can afford the time to travel by land I'd certainly recommend it. Aside from meeting people in a very different manner (usually for longer and more relaxed), you also get a much better sense of how far you've gone. Sometimes seeing the changes in physical landscape can also aid other knowledge, history for example. I remember always knowing about the siege of Leningrad in terms of hard facts, for example, but it wasn't until I travelled from Helsinki to Moscow by train that I understood how the physical terrain hindered the fascist advance and supply through Russia during WWII; the surrounding land being either swamp or immensely dense forest (or a combination of both) for many hundreds of kilometres. There's a great website in English at www.seat61.com which tells you how to get anywhere in the world without flying, mostly by train. It's very detailed, and well worth a look. Train travel can often be cheaper than flying on short or long journeys, and you don't have baggage allowances to worry about - let alone falling out of the sky!
But so I went to Singapore from Dublin via Helsinki and back in the space of 10 days. Was it a dream? Did it really happen? Thus feels my body. The country was certainly interesting though, one of the first places I've been where multiculturalism seems to genuinely work/gel. Singapore has four official first languages - Malay, Mandarin, English, and Tamil. School students have to take at least two of these languages, and all state services are available in each language. Of course there are areas where specific communities come together - Little India, China town etc, but these areas don't feel as ghettoised as other metropolises I've been in.
It also has an incredibly easy relationship with it's colonialist past - all the Singaporeans I met were either indifferent or positive towards the imperialist Raffles. "Well, he made the country really - it wouldn't be so prosperous if it wasn't for him" was the general run of things. All of this says nothing of course about the vast migrant worker population mostly from the Philippines, whose language does not enjoy the same rights, and whose citizens clearly do not enjoy the same benefits as the people they work for or serve...
Unfortunately, my return to Ireland did not a great bounty of work afford and so I set about looking for stuff abroad. I'm now living in China, teaching Public Speaking, Theatre, and a bit of Debate for a specialist education agency in Beijing. As much as I dearly love Ireland, I wasn't making a comfortable living there and so I've jumped ship for a bit. More on China in another post (or perhaps a book haha), but it is certainly an adventure and has already allowed me to visit Vietnam for a holiday, and to see and learn many many new things. Funny old life ain't it?