Upon arrival at Pudong Airport, I will have completed my journey from London to the 'Far East', via Ulaanbaatar, which started in July last year. Travelling by train halfway across the world has been a great personal and developmental journey.
The year working on architectural education in central Asia, and learning about and practicing 'international development' is fresh in my mind, and I do not yet know what it will all mean in the long term. I have seen some interesting job opportunities and been offered work on an RIBA project for a week. A new research project on public space in London also caught my attention. I am thinking about how to bring my experience to bear in my future work, and have promised to report reflections on this to VSO one year hence.
"You have achieved nothing" - the farewell from the drunken Director of the college on the day before I left - still irks me, although I know it was meant 'ironically'. I was pleased that an experienced and highly capable Mongolian colleague, someone who is at arms length from the college, has kindly undertaken to translate the final report and my 'significant change' story. But the language alone will not convey the messages of the report to the 'stakeholders'. Understandably, they will be reluctant to consider the implications of sustained investment- much needed time planning, staff development and pursuing processes of organisational change, as they are busy in the everyday life of teaching (and administering) in a growing college, and finishing construction of the new college building.
Correspondents and colleagues have recently written to me and supported the blog project and I look forward to seeing what can come from it. As I leave for a visit to my birthplace, I am reading 'Wolf Totem', a novel about Mongolia which brings ancient layers of animal myth and nomadic practices into focus. With my recent experience I am able to continue learning more about the sedentary and nomadic ways of life and survival.