If you’re like me, when you see this photo, you cannot help but smile. Not only does this photo cement a friendship encumbered in joy and celebration, but it represents a couple of blokes' passions to cultivate a community. 17,532 hours ago, if you’d asked me what I hoped to achieve out of my experience at St Luke's, I would probably mutter something generic like ‘to learning inquiry’ well knowing I had no idea what the term meant in the first place. Though this goal was true, the underlying passion to feel proud of the community which I called home for the next 2 years lurked in the background.
On my journey, I met Joe Ng. An all-rounder. He seemed to be great at everything! He practiced routine and organisation like a maniac. He could cook a feast captured through various live stream sessions. And on top of that he could hunt down the best coffee on the block. Yet, with all his brilliance I am baffled to know that he supports the Brisbane Broncos. Hey?!? What’s that? A Sydney sider supporting the enemy. Didn’t seem to bother me. I have no interest in football! I just didn’t get why you would support a team who played in another state… like you only get to see them play live half the time. A membership in that regard seems a bit of a stretch. So, I saw this as a fantastic opportunity to stir the air with a certain Principal who is, well, a little bit passionate about the Sydney Chooks.
When all the banter settled, I remember asking Joe, why Brisbane? His reply was humble.
“Upon travelling to Aus, Brisbane was the first team I saw play on the TV”. He replied.
It was in that moment that I recognised an individual who would strive to build a community that would thrive through dedication, just like his underlying addiction to the Brisbane Broncos team.
Early on I didn’t picture falling into a team (or pair) which endorsed “community”. Yet, I quickly realised I was doing this while doing yoga and becoming the laughingstock for the staff Monday Madness participants.
From there the passion to cultivate a community was infectious! The morning phone calls became our ritual to discuss business ventures, staff events and student events. This time has officially been declared “JoeTime” and the Borg family accepts my unavailability between 6:43am and 7:30am. JoeSquared even made room to welcome Kristina Borg (Joe Borg’s loving wife) into the family during October last year. She is an incredible human being that crazily supports the ambitions of JoeSquared. To further highlight this, when Joe bought me a voucher to our favourite restaurant, Sake’, I was so excited to tell Kristina. Her response further confirms our bond:
“Kristina, Joe bought us a voucher to Sake’! How awesome!” I chanted.
“When you say ‘us’ you mean you and him, yeah? I think you guys should go together” she replied.
I think we found ourselves a keeper Joe!
On another occasion, I recall sitting down with Kristina to review our wedding photos. She caught me stargazing at one of the photos and smiled politely asking “What photo have you found of us from the wedding?”. To which I replied “Look, it is a whole shot of Joe!”
The adventures of JoeSquared have solidified a perfect combination of a self-identified visionary and a choreographic magician that generates the perfect blend to achieve our intention of cultivating a community. The inaugural handball tournament kick started a passion to connect as human beings without the stigma associated with titles of staff and students. From this excitement, collaboration, and celebration, we noticed a community chanting on fellow classmates, cheering for teachers and sharing stories days following. All these circumstances proved that JoeSquared was getting closer and closer to initiating a dream. From handball competitions to staff investigations, and even driving range golf days. The name JoeSquared started to float around the staff room. (This wouldn’t at all be because of the logo that we made and attached to whole school staff emails either.)
So, if you asked me what I have learnt over the past 2 years from an inspirational person I would surmise to say: passion. To further accentuate what Joe has taught me, I refer to the infamous words of Master Shifu “If you only do what you can, you will never be more than what you are now”. Joe’s determination to cultivate a community requires perseverance and resilience. He is constantly going above and beyond for his colleagues and his students so that they too can share in the spirit of joy. A good ol’ humble hero some may say.
I often think about what will happen next year without JoeSquared. I believe that the title will unfortunately evaporate from the school staffroom chatter. However, Joe’s professionalism, pedagogy and dedication will result in him doing unimaginable things that will as Shifu says make him ‘more than what he is now’. Doesn’t that baffle you? This already incredible human being is destined to be more than what he is now! I can only describe him as perfect… and how can you beat perfection?
Patience, camaraderie, and humility. When I think of the complexity of these words, it is hard to imagine that they are grounded in one person. To assume that I have learnt these qualities is, well, far from achievable in two years. These qualities are the foundation of a person who is too humble to ever admit he has had such an inspirational impact. Yet, they are the qualities that are well represented in Joe Ng. A colleague and great mate who has inspired me beyond an unimaginable level. Sharing a bond that will stand the test of multiple schools, business adventures and personal endeavours. In essence, Joe has inspired me to do more than I can now, so I am more than what I am later.
It's been a blast! Thanks for all the memories!