Connecting people, and words too

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Five questions with Jean Sims, of Central Otago Reap

Q: What does your role at Central Otago Reap involve?

I am the early childhood co-ordinator, and career development facilitator.

I’ve worked in the early childhood sector in CO Reap for 30 years this coming February.

The job involves working with families and communities, ensuring access and participation in quality education.

Mainly, it has been about connecting people.

When we work collaboratively, solutions can be found to most problems.

It’s a rewarding thing to get involved in community projects, as the work teaches you many skills, along with a deeper self-understanding.

In many ways it is the same supporting people in their career development, which I have done for 16 years now.

Q: How would you describe the importance of community education, at any age?

Not everyone enjoys their formal schooling years.

Learning as an adult is a lot more fun and you can be self-directed.

Another issue is the changing employment opportunities as technology develops.

This trend will continue, so people need to be prepared to update their learning continuously.

While there are still some roles where a person can stay over a lifetime, the trend is to change jobs frequently, which usually means retraining. Legislation requires people to have recognised training, and continuous professional development is part of maintaining your qualifications.

Q: What things do you like doing yourself out of work?

I belong to the Career Development Association of NZ, and serve on the committee of the Otago Southland branch.

This is a real pleasure, as you get to share new thinking and meet inspiring people.

Reading is a huge part of my life. I read every day and enjoy poetry, but also a wide range of styles of writing, especially a story that takes you outside your daily life.

I enjoy walking in the Central Otago hills, and down at the coast walking along the beach.

Gardening is a great inspiration for writing poems, as you are alone with your thoughts.

Q: Tell us about your writing. What kinds of writing have you done and do you enjoy doing, and what would you like to do in the future?

The Creative Writers Circle has been a big help as when you write alone, you do not know if it appeals to other readers.

The people there listen to your writing and reflect back.

I have written poems since childhood. Some I have kept, lying somewhere among the piles.

I expect I will continue writing.

One day some poor person might poke around in the pile, like Janet Frame’s famous The Goose Bath, possibly discovering something of interest.

My daughter and I are working on a children’s book, which is very exciting, and nearly ready to test out on some lucky children.

Q: What brought you to Central?

A sense of connection, really; relatives lived here and fun holidays spent as children.

We were lucky to both find work and it was a great place to raise our children.

The sun shone, even in wintertime!

When I saw the tussocks waving in the breeze on the high parts of the Maniototo it filled me with such a sense of joyful freedom that I was hooked. It will be 40 years next May.

I still feel that way.