One Space – Free Online Learning Courses for Single Parents

One Space is a popular UK social networking site for single parents from Single Parent Action Network (SPAN). It launched a series of free online learning courses recently.

The online learning courses help to up-skill single parents in current work practices so that they can gain and maintain successful employment.

The interactive learning modules are easy to follow and available 24 hours a day to enable lone parents to fit their self-development around family commitments and work at their own pace.

I know and appreciate how well online learning can benefit single parents unable to get childcare for their little ones. I was in that position many years ago now, and completed my first ever degree from Massey University, extramurally, as was available then – through the post). I completed my Bachelor in Business Studies – Accountancy over six years. It fitted in well around my roles as full-time child caregiver and my part-time work with an accountant. I retrained as a teacher when I found accountancy professional development cut too far across family time. Later, I went on to study my Masters in Education via online study while I taught in a full-primary school.

Online education became an interest, and then developed as a major for me during my Masters’ research and study. I developed an online journalism course for gifted seniors who anticipated following this line of work after school. It included role play exercises to familiarise participants with taking an alternative point of view on a topic. By doing so, they had to research a topic much more deeply and their journalism improved as a result.

So – well done One Space, for not only recognising a need for single parents, but for using current technology to improve the chances for those in need.

Knowing who you are helps

I have spoken about this before – but I have just read “Belinda Seiger’s revelation to herself” and she puts it very succinctly. If we are intense people, it pays for us to realise that BEFORE we scare all our buddies away!

Before we can build relationships with other people, we simply need to know who we are first, and how we appear to others. This is a lesson for not just gifted people who need to learn to engage in a ‘foreign’ world to themselves, but to any of us who think that everything out there is just like them.

Coming to live in Samoa, in a new culture, is a big learning curve. To Samoans, my everyday actions can be interpreted as rude – in THEIR culture.

“[S]o, I just wanted to dash out and post a letter – but I was still finishing my doughnut! I dare not leave it in the car – my husband would have ‘seen food and eaten it’!!! I took it with me, but later found out it is rude to eat while you are walking in Samoa! So I hid it under my fan (lucky you can’t go out on the street without a fan to keep you cool) and kept walking …”

Many mis-communications come from people who just don’t realise how their words and actions appear to others around them. Sometimes, I have described this to my husband as him “walking around with his blinkers on”. Other times, I have joked it away with friends as him being a “man on a mission”. They have either learnt to accept his intensity, or been driven away by it.

I am a little intense too – I am always challenged by what I could have done. Many times through life I seem to have missed opportunities – sometimes because I was too early for them, before others were ready to listen. I was in the right place, but at the wrong time! This young girl may have smothered her need to achieve by smoking weed – I have taken to cryptic puzzles lately, just to keep my mind active, while I flounder about thinking which way to go next!

Sharing online – just another way to look at life.

Update : Sonia Dabboussi gives another view of this in her blog:

Bush-whacking and Spiders

Talofa from Samoa

A busy week of climbing hills in 33 degrees – I said “No more” after the first one – left Dennis to go bush-whacking with the Samoan boys and their machetes. Not before I had to drive the Prado over 4WD rough terrain with grass, weeds and vines up to the windows, and Dennis out in font with his machete checking for rocks!!!!

We are still on the lookout for suitable land for our Headquarters. Meanwhile we remain in Satupuala, near the airport, with an air-conditioned office we can’t run the air-conditioning in, but just fans to swish around the 33 degree heat during the day.

How would you like this to greet you in the shower?        

At night, we sleep out in an open fale where it is 26degrees and you can’t usually bear the sheet on you, let alone clothes. I seem to live in my lavalava in the day, wrapped around my body like an oversized handkerchief, and have it draped over me at night, under a mosquito net, and it is lovely to look straight out to the stars. When it rains, the rain comes straight down, so we only get splashes on the end of our feet, but that’s ok because it cools the air.

Only trouble is – can’t go anywhere dressed like that – you have to cover your shoulders for cultural etiquette, and wear something covering your knees too. So, it becomes hot – but generally bearable as we are never too far from the air-conditioned vehicle! And you just don’t go anywhere without mosquito repellant and a fan to keep yourself cool!

We cook over gas cookers (like fancy camping cookers) in our cooking fale, with wide mesh wire netting to keep out the larger animals (like cats, dogs, chickens, pigs and cows!) The rest are kept at bay with a variety of traps and baits and repellants.

Our typical meals are:

Breakfast – muesli, bananas or occasionally pawpaw, and powdered milk. If you think it is expensive in NZ – it’s astronomical here without any dairy herds.

Lunch – toasties with various leftovers – Dennis still loves to bake his own bread – and a fruit smoothie made with frozen bananas and other treats.

Dinner – typically Samoan – real chicken soup with noodles and some watercress for greens, or stir-fry meat and veges with rice. If we go out to the villages, we are treated to polusami – where coconut cream is seasoned and cooked inside taro leaves – quite yummy! And they eat taro here for any meal – I don’t, just a little to be polite when I have to.

Showers (at least three cold ones a day to keep your body cool) are usually shared with the giant African snails (about three times the size of a simple garden snail), some mosquitoes – usually short-lived with my snappy hands, and sometimes a 6cm (across body and legs) water spider. NEVER leave towels or clothes hanging on the hook – you are likely to be greeted by a large cockroach or worse when you collect them later!

We have a clean, flushing toilet, and toilet paper!!!! All this is paradise compared to what some of our friends have in their villages.

Hope you get the picture of a country coming out of the third world, recovering from a tsunami – balancing life with the west as best they can. EVERYONE has a cellphone (for most it is their only phone due to connectivity availability). Money earned (if they are fortunate enough to have a job) is equivalent to NZ$100 per week, but this is plenty to live on, with most having remittances sent from overseas by working family members in NZ and Australia – almost $1million a week comes into the economy this way.

Much more to share – but I’ll leave it for another day.

Early Days in Samoa

Talofa from Samoa!

Just had a whirlwind trip around both islands of ‘paradise’ (Samoa) – taking a NZ scientist friend around to check out the possibility of alternative energy provision up here (solar and wind power).

Stayed with some of our village stay programme people, in their homes (fales).

Met a lady and her 4 yr old son who were both tsunami survivors in a village that has now virtually all relocated inland. The little boy had been scooped up out of the raging waters by an LDS missionary in the area who was already up in a tree holding onto another child, keeping their heads above the water. This young child bears the visible scars on his arms and legs of the vicious second and third waves of hot, black water that became filled with the glass and iron rubble from the demolished buildings in the first surge.

To end the week, we were intimately involved in the Samoan general elections (held every five years) with a two day public holiday. Our cultural advisor and good friend, Tui Tuigamala, was running for MP in his local area, about ten kms from where we live. We helped him with transport around the electorate on voting day (he had previously had to sell his own car to fund his campaign).

It was with much sadness that on the day, possible corruption has barred his access to the two seats available. We believe, however, that God will have His way in this situation, and Tui will rise to take a place to continue to help his village people as he is so good at doing already, with or without a ministerial position.