Just time for a quick shop before heading for the airport and home. This week has been successful on a number of counts, not least the shopping!
But this has been more than a shopping expedition in sunny Sydney. It has been very rewarding to be able to attend the Asia Pacific Forum of Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) twelfth annual meeting, hosted by the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. I particularly valued the opportunity to contribute to the panel on disability rights and the Convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and encouraging to find other institutions, often in really difficult circumstances, prepared to travel the road to disability rights. Spending time among human rights professionals who are passionate about what they do, and focused on the issues is a good recharge of the batteries. It doesnâ€™t mean that everyone agrees on everything, but it does mean that everyone is focused on human rights.
Great to have the conference in the same hotel we stayed in. Terrific hospitality â€“ I can peel prawns very quickly and easily after so much practice! It was lovely to be welcomed to Australia by the people of the land, and to be part of the smoking ceremony which meant that the evil spirits would leave and we would be accepted among the local people. This was followed by an evening of song and dance with a blend of ancient and modern which was quite breathtaking. The harbour cruise was spectacular, and warmer than it would be on the Wellington harbour even in the middle of summer.
Also I got to catch up with some people I really like and respect who I met in New York during the Convention negotiations. Itâ€™s good to keep the international networks alive.
What a week! Two conferences, a report and a presentation to prepare for next week plus docs to comment on and a conference call or two! Spent ages trying to hook into one and had just about got there when the fire alarm went off at close range so evacuation was in order. Only a practice but really annoying. Then I forgot my specs when I went into the office yesterday!
But at least spring is springing and the sun is shining.
One more conference to go here and then its off to Oz on Sunday for another. I’ll be ready for a holiday after that.
My empty nest is also filling up with the return home of our student daughter. Never a dull moment!
I went to the e-govt Wellington bar camp, and I have the Tee shirt to prove it. And no bar camp is not a boozy Saturday spent in a bar, attractive though that may be. A bar camp is a sort of un-conference where anyone can present on a related topic. It is very participatory, a bit anarchic and quite fun. You get to do a rant on your passion, and of course I did mine on accessibility. Shame not may people came, but still useful.
As examples other presentations looked at audience research, what a mature model might look like and how to get there, and ten things a web master could do to improve web sites and the semantic web. All good stuff.
It is always of value to spend a day immersing yourself in an aspect of your work in a relaxed atmosphere where you can talk freely with people in the same business as you are. Topics covered everything from the seriously geeky to the big picture strategic stuff with some thought-provoking discussion. I need to process for a bit. Hopefully there will be some tangible and positive outcomes.
The conference has finished and I am waiting to leave for the airport and reflecting on the experience. Long drives and early starts from hotel to venue, a vast and echoey exhibition hall, a handful of participants who are not Korean or Japanese, a day of variable workshops and interesting conversations, and an even longer drive home in rush hour traffic.
It is a luxury to have several days simply focusing on the Disability Rights Convention. Being able to encourage disabled people around the world to learn about and exercise their human rights has been enormously satisfying, and a far cry from working to get disability included in our own human rights legislation not so long ago.
The entertainment was good too – the amazingly elaborate and colourful court costumes, which I was told were very uncomfortable to wear. Korean music played on traditional and modern instruments by demure young ladies in traditional dress which was a fusion of traditional and modern. Lots of spicy Korean food.
We went shopping for amethysts with a charming and gracious hostess in the part of Seoul which is full of shops selling traditional fare and then wandered through a maze of intriguing lanes with little restaurants to a combined Buddhist temple and vegetarian restaurant run by a former monk who is famous for his local ingredients. Such a peaceful intimate place with gentle music, and interesting food served simply and elegantly, followed by a traditional performance. Sadly we couldn’t stay to the end.