As adjunct faculty, our power inside and outside the classroom is like night and day. We are not full-time; our job is always at the whim of funding or enrollment. We don’t advise students or get the chance to participate in most staff meetings. How can someone with so little power have a positive impact on the workplace when they are, by most respects, the lowest member on the totem pole?
The answer is to use the position to your advantage. As an adjunct there is very little danger involved in sharing your ideas or asking questions. You have the advantage of avoiding workplace dynamics, the so-called “water cooler talks” or “he said she said”. As the lowest member on the totem pole, you have the advantage of being part of the team while also being outside of it. It is tough to make enemies as part time staff, so be brave. If you have an idea, go ahead and start talking it over with other adjuncts to see how it is received. If it goes well, suggest it to your advisor or department head. Making suggestions and taking an active part in trying to help those around you will help you shake any feelings of self-doubt you might have. Not all of your ideas might be used right away, but by sharing them, you are showing everyone that you do have ideas, and you do want to help. The other thing you can do is ask questions. You will find that most educators are more than willing to help you in your hour of need. Helping, after all, is part of what defines us as educators. Asking other adjuncts about their ideas or solutions is encouraging to them. When someone comes to you and asks for your help it shows that they have faith in you, that they trust your opinion. Trust and kindness often go hand in hand.
So don’t be afraid to share ideas and ask meaningful questions. By doing these two things a dialogue and community is created. Support others when you see them trying to reach out, and seek out support when you need to. By moving past your fear and realizing the impact you can have, even as an adjunct, you will encourage kindness and understanding in the workplace.
Gong Xi Fa Cai, pronounced “Gong Hey Fat Choy” in Cantonese, means Happy New Year. It’s a phrase that I learned early on as a small child. One of the very few and most important phrases my mother taught me in her maiden language. She’s from Hong Kong and even though she’s been in the states for over 40 years, Chinese New Year is still the most important celebration for my family, it even trumps Christmas and Easter!
This is not surprising though as China considers this their most important holiday. In fact, it’s also the longest holiday spanning 15 days total! Every year is celebrated on a different day since the holiday is based on the ancient lunar calendar, which translates to sometime between January and February. The tradition started as early as the 14th century B.C. and is still celebrated traditionally today even though China adopted the western calendar. This year is the year of the sheep although you may hear it being called goat or ram as well. Since the Chinese language has so many different translations all are used depending on the region you are in.
My family observes several traditions and superstitions which are both hilarious and heartwarming. These tend to include a very large dinner with only very close friends and family, not washing your hair, cleaning before the New Year, and sleeping with money under your pillow. My mother will cook traditional dishes including a whole steamed fish, shrimps & scallops, bok choy, sea moss, black mushrooms and other favorites. The significance in these dishes range from long life to prosperity for the new year. Lucky money is given to all the children for luck and good fortune. The money is placed in highly decorated red envelopes and then given on both the eve and day of the New Year. We place the envelopes under our pillow and open them the next day. I still look forward to my envelope every year!
If you get the opportunity, wish someone a Happy New Year. It is such an important event to Asians and has so much meaning and tradition associated with it that I’m sure you’ll get a smile in return!!
As this New Year came I found myself needing to make changes and one of those changes was to get out of my chair during the day and walk the campus. I have found that not only are the walks a good form of physical exercise, but it also has been personally and intellectually stimulating. If you have ever have the opportunity to explore our campus you will find many lovely little spots. One of my current favorite spots is a mixed bed of flowers that grow in a riot of stunning shades and sizes.
Like the flowers there’s another wonderful spot I enjoy, which is on the main mall. The other day I took a moment to sit out under the umbrellas and listen for a while. I soon noticed that as people passed by I could hear several exquisite languages. I then began to look up and down the mall and I saw all types of beautiful people, from all over the world. I was filled with an understanding that although our world is in turmoil we of all ages, origins, religions, socioeconomic stratum, etc., can come together and enjoy the “flowers” of this educational institution.