Coming Closer to Home: what it’s like to live upside down.

When we were kids we’d occasionally get perplexed about how people could live upside down in Australia and not fall off the planet.

Having two European guests, Anton and Srdjan,  take root in your home town, courtesy of a Youth in Action Grant, makes you realise that up-side-down-ness isn’t about gravity at all but much more about how you drink, eat, navigate local traffic and your own national identity within the wider European maelstrom of identities.

Hosting European guests has many pleasures to it – showing them your favourite pub topping the list of course – but the most entertaining one is looking at them looking at us and finding out that it’s a perpetual source of amusement for them.

The most obvious example is of course the fact that we Brits drive on the wrong side of the road, compared with most of the rest of the world. There are a lot of early visit gags about the lads sitting in the wrong car seat and pretending to drive with imaginary steering wheels and hammering imaginary brake pedals in pseudo emergency stops. No-one’s hurt though and there’s no damage down.

English beer is also a source of wonder and bemusement. Not only does it have no head to it but it also tastes of bread according to Anton.  Or is something that would be fed to the pigs in the summer, if you lived in Srdjan’s home town. The idea that we drink this stuff at all leaves the boys incredulous.

Things get more complicated when we talk about what constitutes typical English food. The road the boys live on is awash with Chinese, Greek, Turkish, Italian and Indian takeaways and when we point out that the most popular meal in the country is Tandoori Chicken, this too provokes a lot of head scratching, puzzled looks and eventual boredom when we discuss some of the consequences of being an ex-colonial power.

Perhaps our up-side-down-ness is something that we should recognise and enjoy more frequently. It would allow us to challenge all sorts of international orthodoxies like McDonalds, Starbucks and NATO for instance. We could cheerfully opt out of some of the tackier sides of modern day living with the reason that we’re an upside down kind of nation and still haven’t fallen off the planet despite the gravitational pull of the large multinational conglomerates.

There are lots of benefits to being funded by the EU: and realising that you live most of your life upside down is probably one of the best.

AspireAustralia – welcome to our arts, education and regeneration programmes

Greetings to the AspireAustralia blog, a one shop blog spot with information, offers, proposals, hunches and ideas about our forthcoming arts and creative education programmes across Australia. We’ve been working in Tasmania since 2012, and are building relationships with schools, artists and educators across the country.

Our work in Tasmania started here:

And carries on here:

Watch this space for further action!

Does your school need an international cultural attache? Here’s how…

Could your school benefit from international links with teachers, pupils and families? Are you interested in exploring some unique professional development opportunities with teachers and other educators on the other side of the world?

Over the last two years, the Aspire Trust has organised international conferences for Principals and Head teachers from India, Nigeria and the UAE to visit UK schools. We ran the All Our Futures conference in Liverpool and Wallasey this summer for Indian, Nigerian and other international head teachers and educators. The success of that and similar events has led me to being invited by the University of Tasmania with a view to establishing a similar event there in either 2012 or 2013. The first step in that process will be between 25 November and 13 December this year when I will travel there to make initial contacts with the University and schools across Tasmania.

If you would like me to represent your school with a view to establishing some active, realistic links then I am able to offer you a number of services:

1. Taking promotional material to schools in Tasmania, complete with contact details, so that schools could contact you directly. I will be doing this for 12 English schools so your information would be viewed in this context. I would take 10 copies of your promotional pack which should be no more than 2 sides of A4 paper and one CD / DVD. Materials should be clearly labeled and packaged.

2. or, I could take a more active role in promoting your school by coming to see you, developing an action plan with you, and taking a more proactive role in promoting your school to the schools I visit. In this option, you could supply me with additional promotional material and I would aim to identify a specific named partner school for you as a result of the trip. As this option would require a heavier investment from me in my time promoting your school, I would be looking for a sponsorship from you of £300 towards the costs of my time in this promotional activity. On my return to the UK, I would then revisit your school with an activity report which would specify who I had met, details of your potential partner school(s) and other information as specified in the action plan.

If this is of interest to you, please feel free to get in touch with me at nowen.aspire@btconnect.com