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My automated response to the eternal existential question, Who am I ? is, I am the body and the name attached to it or maybe I am a Clinical Audiologist, which is my disciplinary identity or I am an Academic Adviser currently working at AUT which is my profession. Although all of these identities are true, they feel superficial. The truth is I am a soul. I am a spiritual being having a human experience. My spiritual outlook has been shaped by my tīpuna and mātua. I am mindful of this spiritual identity and carry it along with me in all spheres and interactions of my life and teaching is no exception.
My father was an Indian Army officer, due to the nature of his job we would move cities very frequently and as a result, I changed 6 schools before graduating high school. Initially, this idea of being transferred from one school to another in a completely new city, environment and people was challenging and uncomfortable for me. However little I knew that these changes were molding me to become a more adaptable, resilient and cosmopolitan person who started appreciating diversity in people, culture, and situations. My global exposure has made me realize that learning is never comfortable, it is challenging, disruptive, pushes the boundaries for learners and amidst these uncomfortable situations, a true transformation happens. Through my academic practice, I strive to bring this transformation for people I work with and students I teach.
For me, one of the most special and influential teachers was my mother. She never had the opportunity to go to school herself, however, she embodied very special traits which made an everlasting impact on my personal and professional life. She was a perfect combination of being unconditionally accepting, caring, compassionate, believing in me and always creating innovative ways to understand and address my needs. She developed a special connection and emotional bond with me which motivated me to tap into my unutilized potential. I aspire to carry these values with me while interacting with learners and academics from diverse backgrounds to facilitate them to realize their optimum potential.
Having a disciplinary background in Audiology, Research, Speech Therapy and working with people with disabilities has made me an empathetic and compassionate person. I have developed a special outlook to see peoples’ ‘abilities’ and ‘strengths’ instead of their ‘disabilities’. I have learned from my patients to never give up and being open to experimentation with novel therapies to explore better management. As a result of this, I have become a courageous academic who is not afraid to take risks and new challenges with a growth mindset.
गुरु ब्रह्मा गुरु विष्णु गुरु देवो महेश्वर गुरु साक्षात् परमं ब्रह्मा तस्मै श्री गुरुवे नम:
I grew up reciting this Sanskrit verse which means “Guru (teacher – who leads us towards lights of knowledge from deep darkness of ignorance) is verily the representative of Brahma (creator), Vishnu (sustainer of knowledge) and Shiva (destroyer of the weeds of ignorance); I salute such a Guru” (Mlecko, 1982). The significance of ‘Guru’ in my cultural upbringing has molded my educational practice to incorporate innovation, technology and novel ideas for creating and designing safe, meaningful and authentic learning environments for the tertiary education sector in Aotearoa and Australasian universities.
A teacher who is attempting to teaching without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on cold iron Horace Mann