Monday, March 12, 2012


This past weekend was Labour Day weekend in the state of Victoria. Yes, for the sake of this holiday, I am using the Australian spelling of "labour", but I have been reluctant to change my spelling of other words such as favourite, behaviour, and of course all of the words that substitute an "s" in place of the lovely "z" or "zed". I learned that Australia does not celebrate Labour Day on the same day, as it differs drastically between states, which I think is interesting given there are only 7 states in Oz.
A beautiful day for skiing on the Yarra River
Erik and I had been looking forward to this weekend for quite a while, not because it was a 3 day weekend (we actually just learned of the Labour Day holiday a few weeks ago), but because of the Moomba Masters Water Ski Tournament. In the water ski community, Moomba is considered one of the greatest water ski tournaments in the world. Until this weekend, Erik and I actually thought that the festival was named after Moomba boats! Turns out that the festival is much more than a water ski tournament, and there are live entertainers performing, carnival rides and games, delicious food stands, fireworks, and a parade on the last day of the festival. Moomba is Australia's largest free community festival, having been held for more than 50 years, and the word moomba actually means "let's get together and have fun".
Quite a large crowd gathered to watch slalom
Clearly there are people that could care less about the water skiing portion of the festival, but that was certainly the highlight for us and I would say that it drew a large crowd of spectators. The only water ski tournaments we've previously attended have been in Charleston, South Carolina, where a few people came to watch but it was mostly competitors cheering each other on along the shores of the lake. We actually watched Chris Parrish break the men's slalom record in Charleston circa 2005 and, despite the small crowd, it was really exciting.
Chris Parrish making slalom look ridiculously easy
No record breaking this time, but still fun to watch!
We spent pretty much all day at Moomba on Saturday, as we found a nice spot to sit on a grassy hill with a good view of the slalom course. One of the huge crowd-pleasers at Moomba is the jump, and Erik and I happen to have a friend, Natallia Berdnikava, who currently holds the world record in women's jump. Natallia and Erik worked together at Coble Ski School back in 2004 and 2005. We knew that Natallia was going to be jumping and also trick skiing at Moomba, and we made sure to watch her jump on Saturday where she recorded the best jump of all of the women and went on to win the jump competition on Monday! We also got a chance to catch up with her a bit after her jump and she mentioned how amazing Moomba was with the crowd, the setting (right in the CBD), and just the general atmosphere. The Yarra River does provide a beautiful backdrop for skiing even if the water looks gross (Natallia confirmed that it is!), though according to skiers it can be a tricky place to ski because of the changing tides of the river, something that is not a problem in a lake, where most ski tournaments are held.
Natallia getting ready to jump
Flying high in the air!
Night jump begins...

This past week I was called for my first casual relief teaching (substitute teaching) job. I was pretty excited because it was in a Catholic primary school (grades K-6), and I thought it would a fun day working with the little ones. "Fun" isn't exactly the word I would use to describe my day, although the students did love my accent and wanted to know if I knew Taylor Swift, since we are both from the USA. :) The school is a new concept "open" school, which I thought was great at first, until I realized that if one class was noisy or walking to a "specials" class, it was disruptive to the other nearby classes. Also, I learned that the role of a PE teacher is quite different here, at least at this school it was. Instead of the classroom teachers walking the classes to the gym, I had to pick up and drop off the students after class, and I was even responsible for taking attendance of the first class while they were still in their classroom. Furthermore, during what I thought was going to be my free period, I filled in for grade 3, teaching English and Math to the same group for almost 2 hours straight! The school seemed to emphasize freedom to move, so the students did not have desks or chairs and in PE they did not sit in spots or lines. The students could eat snacks when they pleased and many students were taking off their shoes while they were doing work! There is no bell between classes, but hip hop music plays when it's time to change subjects or go to recess. I had about 15 minutes to eat my lunch, and there is no cafeteria so I ate in the gym. Overall, it was an exhausting day! I really like some of the concepts that the school has, but at the same time I'm not sure that all of the freedom is the best idea considering when the students get into upper grades they will be expected to deal with structured classrooms and learning and won't have previous experience with that type of education.

In my last post, I mentioned that I had a meeting with a local college about teaching in their Sports Therapy program. The meeting went well, and I was offered a full course load of subjects to teach for this semester, which starts tomorrow. However, given the short notice and my previous commitments to other work, I agreed to take on 2 classes. I will be teaching First Aid, Trauma, and Emergency Support, which is right up my alley given my background in athletic training. I should have two classes of about 16 students, and each class runs for 2 hours, which should be plenty of time to discuss injuries and have the students complete hands-on practice of caring for injuries. I'm looking forward to starting this course tomorrow, though I'm not as excited about my 1 hour commute on public transport to get to the college. At least I can play my newest iPhone addiction, Draw Something, while I make my way into the city!!

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