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Last night in Princeton; reaching deep for Gatsby quotes

“The Middle West now seemed like the ragged edge of the universe”-F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

That is how I view the Midwest as well, my first home. Holds some allure, but the allure of Cantonese, surgery, or imagist poetry; the allure of something you will never fully understand or master. This is perhaps due to the fluid approximation that home has held for me since graduating from high school. At least 7 homes since then in 7 cities. And this is how I feel about that motion (which I do believe, philosophically, is why I am attracted to mobile learning as a technology that suits my search for future, horizons, and even home).

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And then one fine morning-So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

I am being born back into the past, I suppose, with this next move. And this is the window I will be staring from, blogging from, and daydreaming from for the next year.

Nothing to original to say here (hence all the Gatsby quotes scattered throughout) except that this is my last night in my Princeton, New Jersey apartment, my home for the last five years. My wife left a few weeks ago, secured an apartment in Seoul, and is arranging all the trappings necessary for metropolis living (internet, iPhones, coffee maker). For my part, I am here closing up shop, arranging movers, watching them pack everything I own in less than two hours, load it onto a truck, and leave me to watch Hurricane Irene through the prism of an empty apartment. I will be leaving here tomorrow, heading to Long Island to spend some time with my father in-law, then fly out to Seoul via Seattle (for a visit with a good friend). I will be on the ground in Seoul by the 15th.

I can’t do justice to the last five years, to be honest. Too many memories, incredible growth, experience, memories. We both struggled to leave here, even if it is only for a year. Some highlights

  1. An evening sitting in Palmer Square in Princeton.
  2. The D&R Canal Trail. Simply nothing finer than a long bike ride on a Saturday afternoon.
  3. Friends. All two of them. You know who you are. Will see you abroad.
  4. Travel. Ad nauseum (Africa x7, Europe x4, Asia x2, Central America x1, Australia x1, infinite conferences in some memorable cities and some that weren’t).
  5. Supermarkets. Laugh, but that is what we missed the most the first time around in Korea. And Princeton has some of the best.
  6. Our apartment. Nights of cocktails and YouTube, music, sitting on the veranda. Did I mention I love my wife?
  7. Road trips to family in Pittsburgh, Ohio, Montreal.

And on and on. And off we go, again and again. I left one off the list above, the one with the most magnitude sitting as it does 50 miles or so from here. New York City. I have never shied away from saying what a love-hate relationship I had with the city, at times avoiding it altogether. At times, just electrified by it. But like any live current, it tires you out and so I turn to Gatsby again for some guidance here (although he is kind of referring to Long Island).

“I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes — a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.”

Something commensurate to his capacity for wonder. That is one good line. And that is where New York enthralls me, as a source of wonder and not reality. This wonder produces things like this:

[vimeo 17969730]

So off we go to Seoul, from the New World to the (way) Old. See you the next time around. Princeton, we will miss you.

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About Author

My name is Michael Sean Gallagher. I am a Lecturer in Digital Education at the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. I am Co-Founder and Director of Panoply Digital, a consultancy dedicated to ICT and mobile for development (M4D); we have worked with USAID, GSMA, UN Habitat, Cambridge University and more on education and development projects. I was a researcher on the Near Futures Teaching project, a project that explores how teaching at The University of Edinburgh unfold over the coming decades, as technology, social trends, patterns of mobility, new methods and new media continue to shift what it means to be at university. Previously, I was the Research Associate on the NERC, ESRC, and AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund sponsored GCRF Research for Emergency Aftershock Forecasting (REAR) project. I was an Assistant Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (한국외국어대학교) in Seoul, Korea. I have also completed a doctorate at University College London (formerly the independent Institute of Education, University of London) on mobile learning in the humanities in Korea.

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