Education, Health & Wellbeing, Reviews

Working Hard, Hardly Working?

In the last month, I have been employed (on a casual basis) at two, going on three, different jobs. I know, I’m insane. As if studying full-time wasn’t enough already? I’m a serial over committer – help me? In all seriousness though, I have needed to get better at saying no: forty-four hours of work in a week is not the optimal amount for a full-time university student…

I’m working as a caregiver at a retirement village again, a support worker through an agency, and I will likely be working as a teacher aide at a special needs school again come term four. I really enjoy this work, and even though it can be rough or exhausting at times, I feel really rewarded by it, and I love supporting people to be more independent, comfortable, and more well. While all the jobs are different and no two days are the same, it’s all about caring for the needs of the client, and helping them with things they need help to do. It’s not about feeling sorry for them, doing things for them – I do believe there is a distinction between this and supporting their independence, at whatever level that may be.

This week, one client, a teenager with cerebral palsy, said to me that they would never want to ‘be normal’ even if they could, because they lead a perfectly happy and fulfilling life as they are, and their diagnosis is just a part of who they are. I thought that was brilliant, and it really speaks to the stereotype of disabled people being helpless, encumbered or having a lesser life or opportunities. We also talked about some of the horrendous bullying they went through at school, and their isolation from the mainstreamed students. I completely agreed with them about the need for greater integration of special needs units into mainstream. (It would literally be a win/win scenario for both the special needs and mainstream students, and I don’t get why it isn’t pushed for more.) It made me angry to hear what they had to put up with, and it made me wonder how many others there must be out there going through the same thing.

Oh also – an update on Mahuru Māori: I struggled to kōrero entirely in te reo on Tuesdays (i.e. I ‘cheated’ and spoke English on more than one occasion), and while I think I may have been a bit over ambitious, I still got a lot out of it. For one, my te reo Māori Spotify playlist introduced me to some amazing music, and I found myself listening to it pretty much daily, not just on Rātū! Maisey Rika is a new favourite singer of mine, and I want to do a cover of either Te Ruatekau-Mā-Waru, Pumau Tonu or Haumanu. As you can imagine, I learned heaps of new kupu, and wrote a lot of them down in my Mahuru Māori notebook, so I can refer back to them and study them. Getting acquainted with new waiata like the ones mentioned above really helped to retain the meanings of words. I also love Whakamoemititia by Stan Walker and Azalaea by Sianne. Listening to these waiata on repeat has made me realise just how much I’m improving – I could follow a lot of what the lyrics were saying: Whakamoemititia is a worship song about (presumably the Christian) god, and Azaelea is about Sianne’s love song to her young daughter, her ‘putiputi ātaahua’ and ‘taonga tuku iho’. It’s such a beautiful waiata, and feel free to listen to it below. The chorus is so catchy and uplifting:

Kei te tipu koe
Kei te puāwai
He putiputi ātaahua, ātaahua
Ko koe te rerenga o tōku mānawa
He aroha mutunga kore
He puna waiora nō ngā tīpuna
E kore e mimiti noa

…and my attempt to translate it:

You are growing
Beautiful, beautiful flower
You are the flutter of my heart
Never-ending love
Wellspring of the ancestors
Never to run dry

But sounds better in te reo, don’t you think?


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