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  • Sarah

Growth Doesn't Come Easy

If someone told me that I would move to Sydney, create and run the programmes of an OOSH Centre in a local public school, discipline, care for kids and teach them yoga, I’d cry.

I’d cry and roll my eyes and think it’s the most unlikeliest thing to happen to me. That I wouldn’t be able to do it.

What is an OOSH? It stands for Out Of School Hours and here's an overview if you're interested.

By nature of an OOSH service, I work these broken hours from 7am - 10am, followed by 2pm - 6pm, It’s excruciatingly long and magnified when dealing with 70-100 kids daily.

Given the broken shift, I’ve have to drive myself everyday to work back and forth, 4 times. I wake / drag myself up at 5.41am, and out the door by 6.30am. It’s fast-paced with no down time and easing in. Some kids show up at the door at 7am and I’m on my feet preparing breakfast / setting up for an unpredictable morning. They all have their moods and I’d never know what kind of morning I’d get. No more strolling into the office, getting my chee chong fan and teh si and looking at my to-do list for the day. Here, it’s go-time the minute I get in.

7:00am to 8:30am might seem like a really short time but with the kids, every minute feels like 15. When I’m done there, I get into the office and work on the programmes/admin side of my job; it feels rushed but better than being on the floor. Out the door at 10am and home by 10.20am. Chill out, have lunch and it’s back to the grind again, 2pm.

2:00pm to 6:00pm. Here’s when it gets physically and mentally demanding. A fellow educator asked if I’d ever thought I’d be cutting up fruits for 70 children when I took up the job, and the answer of course is helllll noooa! I am doing things for children that I don’t even do for myself!

Here’s my reality: I clean up dishes, wipe down floors and pick up toys and basically get down on my hands and knees after children. Other times I’d be teaching yoga, hosting Maroubra’s got talent, running around the playground as a “wolf” capturing kids, playing handball, tag, creating finger puppets, paper plate lions, building marble run towers, ironing hama beads, dressing wounds, reading, scolding, laughing and crying (by the end of the day).

There are moments when I think, what am I doing here? (at this job) (in this country) and Gabe reminds me that I don’t have to think about that, but rather to focus on the experience. THE EXPERIENCE. It’s useful most times to think about the big picture and purpose, but I've realised that it’s also about just being present. No need to ask where I’m going with this but rather, what have I gained so far, what have I learnt, am I growing each day, and the answer is hell yes.

I’m learning so much, being in a new environment. New industry, meeting new people, new culture, new lingos, new everything. I've learnt:

  1. That kids are strangely afraid of magpies.

  2. People are gonna work only for the hours they are paid. Not a minute more, na uh!

  3. It’s better explaining to kids why you’re asking them to do certain tasks rather than just telling them to do it. And I mean really getting down to their level and explaining it. Like, “I’ve asked you not to do that because…” and that takes work. It’s a lot easier to just tell them to do what you want them to do.

  4. It’s very pleasing to hear them call me by name.

  5. They love watermelon like it’s the food of gods.

  6. They HATE cleanup with every fibre of their being.

  7. A lot of children are clearly on the spectrum / have additional needs but are not properly diagnosed, making our jobs very difficult to do.

  8. I’m exposed to children of broken families, child protection services, dietary restrictions, medical conditions, behavioural and social concerns daily. I have to manage all of these and the team of educators.

  9. The average age of my team is 25, and I am the oldest one there. I am also the only Asian face on the team. The average age at head office is prolly 50. You get the disparity in doing things.

  10. They think drinking warm water is disgusting.

The dive into it all has been overwhelming to say the least. I've been put through courses and trainings in first aid, child protection services, coping with diabetes, and I still have another certification with 12 modules to complete. It’s been physically taxing on my body with the daily drives and getting used to the hours, but I’d say I’m doing a pretty good job keeping it together and really thankful still for this hard opportunity. It’s pushed me in all directions, since I haven’t been challenged like that in the last 5 years, am trying to take it in my stride.

Knowing if you stick at something long enough, you adapt, you manage and you might even excel.

Growth definitely doesn’t come easy. In the last 6 months here, I’ve done so much more than I ever have in a year back home (note to self: entry on what I’ve done during my unemployment).

Time is relative, so it feels like we’ve been here for over a year and everyday we’ve been living and working hard, unlike “cruising” back in sg. Gabe said it’s not the duration/how long we’ve been here, it’s what we do in our time. And he’s right - something so obvious gets lost in the process.

We’re out a lot on weekends and defo spent a lot of time doing nature stuff that we love during lockdown, it’s been fruitful. We have no regrets making this move and together as a couple, our relationship is stronger.

Countless times we’ve heard friends saying, “omg time flies, I can’t believe it’s been 6 months!” Unfortunately, that’s because back home life is routine, with the covid restrictions and daily sombre news. Nothing much is going on it seems, and staying in your comfort zone is the most mundane thing you can do with your time. Wow, did I just say that?!

“We gauge time by memorable events and fewer new things occur as we age to remember, making it seem like childhood lasted longer,” Kesari says.

That's true, Kesari. Childhood was super fun and exciting, and we have captured so many memories of it. That is why doing new things and experiencing new and memorable events are so important. I genuinely feel like everyday is new and I am grateful.

So ask me again if I could imagine doing what I’m doing right now at this stage in life and I’d say no, it’s not imagining, it’s living. And I will recall living my time here as vividly as possible, growing through my challenges, all in the name of Personal Development.

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