Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Our Home Garden

Our apartment here in Brisbane is surrounded by lush forest and overgrowth, so I guess it was only a matter of time before we acquired some plants of our own. Last weekend, Nissa and I went to a free training seminar about home gardening where we expected to learn a few tips on growing herbs and small crops on a porch or in a backyard. So we were pretty surprised when we got to the class and the instructors told us we would be building and taking home a hydroponic gardening device. All for the price of... well, nothing.

Our kitchen garden.
The class provided us with all the tools and starter plants, as well as a small pump to drip feed water to the plants throughout the day. Actually, the pump was an air pump meant to oxygenate fish tanks, but with a little clever engineering we were able to transform it into a water pump that would normally be a lot more expensive. Really a brilliant way to save some money.

So as I write this I can hear the hum of the air pump from the kitchen and the light trickle of water coming out the feeding tube. Now to wait and see if this lettuce actually grows.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Rotary fellowship

Rotary Peace Fellows, Ambassadorial Scholars, and a few Rotarian counselors in Brisbane.

I'm just finishing up my third week of classes here in Brisbane as a Rotary Peace Fellow at the University of Queensland. It's been a strange transition becoming a student again, but I can honestly say that even six years out, the University of Chicago prepared me well. There's been a huge amount of reading and a lot of class discussions, but so far things are going well.

I'm taking three classes this semester -- Advanced International Studies, Principles of Deep-Seated Conflict Resolution, and Arms Control & Disarmament. The Advanced International Studies class is a required class and heavy on theory, but my professor keeps it interesting with Mr. Bean and Star Trek references. Unlike the University of Chicago, which is home to the famous Realist theorist John Mearsheimer, UQ is apparently known for its Marxist/Liberal bent. I guess that's why UQ has a Peace Studies and U of C doesn't.

I'm really enjoying my Arms Control class and am able to bring a lot of my experience from South Korea and with Worldview into the class discussion. My third class discusses conflict resolution methods in long-standing wars, something that also applies readily to the situation in Korea.

My experience with Rotary so far has been great. The Rotarians -- i.e., the members of Rotary around Brisbane -- have been very welcoming and I'm looking forward to learning more about the organization during our time here. The ten other fellows in my Rotary Peace Fellow program are interesting people from all over the world. In addition to the Americans, there's fellows from Iran, Columbia, Burma, Nepal, Germany, and Iceland. I can already tell it's going to be a engrossing year and a half here.