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The School of Culture, History and Language is a bustling hub of researchers, teachers and professional staff; together we use our disciplinary and area-based expertise—unparalleled anywhere else in the University or Australia—to deepen our understanding of people, languages and lands of the Asia and Pacific region. This expertise ranges across Anthropology; Archaeology and Natural History; Gender, Media and Cultural Studies; Linguistics; Pacific and Asian History; and Languages, with 16 different languages from Asia and the Pacific now being taught at the School. It is easy to see why CHL has such a vibrant, diverse and unique character. I am proud to lead this community as Director.
Semester 1 2020 has seen us face many unprecedented challenges. Although it seems so long ago, many of us are still feeling the repercussions of the Black Summer bushfire crisis and the hailstorm in January 2020. Then, at a time when people’s anxieties and stresses were already heightened, the additional pressure and worries surrounding the implications of COVID-19 became all too real before Semester 1 had barely begun.
We needed to rapidly adapt our courses from face-to-face modes on campus to remote teaching modes in our homes. Alongside the pressure to provide an adequate educational experience for our students, many of us faced the challenge of maintaining other personal responsibilities and our mental health. While the past semester tested our mettle, we demonstrated how resilient and adaptable staff and students are at CHL.
In the face of these crises, CHL rose to the occasion. We not only delivered on remote teaching in a very short timeframe, but also worked together to produce meaningful Bushfire crisis and COVID-19 pandemic resources for culturally and linguistically diverse communities. These resources were translated into multiple languages taught at CHL through the incredibly generous efforts of our staff and students and in collaboration with colleagues at the Research School of Population Health (RSPH).
In the face of such hardships, it is incredibly rewarding to see collegiality within the School and across Colleges to produce such positive outcomes. I hope CHL feels a great sense of achievement knowing that these translations will benefit culturally and linguistically diverse communities during these confusing and confronting times.
As the second semester now approaches, I look forward to seeing our staff’s dedication and tenacity endure in what will no doubt be a challenging semester. Our students are expecting us to deliver a more mature online mode of learning, and with the ongoing challenge of COVID-19, we must do what we can to remain positive and support each other. During these difficult times, CHL will continue to deliver on our strategic goals and demonstrate our ability to adapt to this ever-changing environment. In Semester 2, we can look forward to a myriad of online activities, including our monthly Synapse series and our Flagship events.
It is my great pleasure to lead CHL through these challenging times and I am certain the School will continue to rise to whatever may come our way. I look forward to seeing you—whether it be on campus or online—in semester 2.
-Simon Haberle, Director