VILTA’s 40th Anniversary
Posted by Lisa Hill on July 7, 2008
I finally got round to developing some photos today (yes, film, how last century is that!) and discovered some from VILTA’s 40th Anniversary Cocktail Party at the Hemisphere Convention Centre (22.2.08).
It was a lovely night, catching up with old friends from my days as VILTA’s President, though mercifully no one asked me to speak any Indonesian because mine is very rusty indeed. My successor and current President, Heather Brown, said some kindly things about my contribution and an award was presented to all the past presidents who were able to attend.
I was never much good at networking or representing VILTA on cultural occasions, but I certainly did my best for the emerging group of primary LOTE teachers in government schools. Before my time VILTA was more orientated towards secondary schools, many of the committee were teachers in independent schools, and many of them were native speakers of the Indonesian. However, with LOTE becoming compulsory for all Prep-10 students in Victoria, the association had to broaden its outlook and provide for a wider range of skill levels amongst its ranks. Many of us were not really confident either about our language competence or our teaching methodology, and resources for primary teachers were scanty. That was why I had started publishing my Word Puzzles for the Indonesian Classroom series, (now out of print) but I also made sure that each issue of our magazine Suara VILTA had curriculum units and teaching resources that were user friendly for primary teachers new to the role.
It probably wasn’t understood by the membership, but I think that the most useful thing I did was to professionalise the association. (I had been astonished to be given, when I took over as treasurer, a muddle of supermarket bags full of receipts, and even more astonished to learn that VILTA’s accountant was not surprised at all.) I became president just as we had to deal with the GST, manage very large grants from the Department of Education (or whatever it was called back then) and computerise our operations, all of this at a time when teachers were under great pressure because of the Kennett reforms.
My dear friend and colleague Ross Benbow took on the role of treasurer and with loyal committee members Heather Brown and Libby Browning to support and guide me, together we steered the association through Business Activity Statements, changes to the constitution, and a host of other imperative changes. We initiated a 2-day residential gathering of the committee during the January holidays so that we could manage the workload, and moved monthly meetings to a more acccessible venue. We bought laptops and fax machines for coordinators of key events like Sayembara and Lisan, and outsourced the editorship of the magazine. We even managed to negotiate our way out of a very tricky situation with a competitor for the association’s fledgling website, and also tidied up the criteria for judging the annual Sayembara competion.
I look back on those days when I was teaching full time, running the association and contributing to its magazine every month - and wonder how I did it. I couldn’t have managed without the support of colleagues both at VILTA and my school, and patient forbearance from my husband.
I’m proud of what I achieved, but I do like having spare time since leaving!