Do All the Good that You Can

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John Wesley (1703 –  1791) was the founder of the Methodist church.
I was raised in the Methodist church, and although I am no longer religious Wesley’s message resonates with me.  It is a call to action, a cry for service, a request for compassion.

Wesley’s message has been on my mind recently.  How can one person make a positive impact in the world?   It seems so daunting when the daily news is filled with loss, suffering, and trauma.  Yet, I see glimmers of hope that inspire me. The follow story is one of those glimmers.

As the school year came to an end, I searched for a summer job.  I decided to work at a local restaurant called Nora’s.  Although I didn’t have any serving experience, I thought that the perks of a short commute, cash tips, and evenings off made it a great option.

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Go to Nora’s in Wilson, Wyoming and try their huevos rancheros.  It is delicious!
The purpose of getting a summer job was to earn money to put towards my work with Project Wezesha.   Working at a breakfast diner is far from glamorous, but I got to meet interesting characters and witness authentic human interactions.

I was working the counter one day.  It was busy as usual.  A man motioned for me to come over.  I had served him before. He was burly, in his 40s. He wore a black leather jacket with weathered jeans.  He looked the part of a motorcycle rider in a Hollywood film.  He had kind eyes. He whispered, “Do you know what RAK is?”

Now anyone that knows me can attest to the fact that all pop-culture references are lost on me.  Was this a band?  An app?  I didn’t know.   He explained the acronym.

Random Acts of Kindness.   Of course I knew what that mean!  He proceeded to tell me that in addition to his bill, he wanted to pay for the two people at a table nearby who he didn’t know.  He wanted the fact that their bill had been paid for kept a secret until they were ready leave and above all, he wanted it to be anonymous.

I was thrilled to be a player in this game of RAK.   It gave me goose-bumps.  It helped restore hope in humanity and reaffirmed my belief that people are innately good.

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When I think of this story and reflect on Wesley’s quote, making a positive impact seems more manageable.  It is a good reminder that being kind doesn’t always require an extreme sacrifice or significant gesture.   It can be simple.

What good are you doing in the world?

Need some ideas?  Check this out:  Random Acts of Kindness Ideas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Have a Situation on our Hands

Girl Effect We have a situation on our handsI am tired of the news; fake or otherwise.  I want to scream to all politicians and media outlets, “We Have a Situation on our Hands!”  It is time we do something about it.  It is time I do something about it.

Have you heard of the Sustainable Development Goals?   They set out to achieve three extraordinary things by 2030—ending poverty, combating climate change, and fighting injustice and inequality.  

Global GoalsIf the Global Goals are to be achieved by 2030 we’ve got a lot of work to do! We must turn our ideas into action.  

My personal belief is that if you see someone who needs help, help them. It is your responsibility to do so.  It is my responsibility.  It is our responsibility.

These Global Goals cause us to think beyond ourselves, to stretch out of our comfort zone, and to make sacrifices so that others can have opportunities to thrive as we have.  (I’ll leave that as ‘we’ because if you are reading this #1 You speak English #2 You are literate and #3 You have access to internet.  You already have SO much going for you!)

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It is my responsibility to take on the Global Goals and I am doing so in my own way.   My focus is on the following goals: #4. Quality Education and #5. Gender Equality because of my ability to help in these categories.  I can use my resources, experiences, and networks to make a difference.  That is why I am going to Tanzania to volunteer at a rural secondary school.

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Global Goal #4 Quality Education

I saw this video years ago.  The Girl Effect: The Clock Is Ticking. I encourage you to take 3 minute and 4 seconds to watch it.  The video articulates evidence from a growing body of research that educating young girls improves entire communities.  

I believe in the Global Goals.  I believe in Quality Education.  I believe in Gender Equality. I believe I have a role in achieving these goals.   Join me in being part of the solution.

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Project Wezesha students hard at work on their studies.

My Educational Journey

Today is the end of my journey. At the same time, it is the start of my next adventure. Today marks my last day at Journeys School, where I have worked for the past nine years.   I have worn many hats there including; Spanish teacher, advisor, director of the middle school, k-12 coordinator of faculty training and operations, capstone teacher and more.  Although I have not earned a degree from Journeys School, it has played a fundamental role in my education as a person and professional.   Thus, I will add it to the steps along my educational journey.  

I am thankful for the community of learners and educators I have been a part of.  Each of you has shaped me into the person I am today.

Here are some of the lessons, ideas, and topics I am taking with me: place-based education, the sustainability triangle, design thinking, growth mindset, integrated curriculum, standards-based grading, professional learning communities, the waterline model,  SO much information about the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem… The list could go on for hours.

Now on to the next journey.

My heart flutters

When I think about volunteering in a rural village in Western Tanzania my heart flutters with excitement, I have not felt this way in over a decade.   I start to dream and strategize ways to be an agent of positive change.   

I am at a crossroads in my life.  I have had a decade of growth, exploration, and reflection.  I am ready to take my insights into the next chapter of my life as I refine my career goals.  I have something to give to the children and villagers of Mgaraganza: my experience, my passion, my compassion.

My intention is to help others, and yet I am aware that this experience is already transforming me.  I believe this experience will be mutually beneficial.  I will impart my knowledge of best practices in education to others and in return, I will bring back what I learn from a non-industrialized country that will further my impact in the U.S.

Mgaraganza, Tanzania

I will live and work in Mgaraganza, Tanzania.  I recently learned that in Tanzanian, primary school is taught in Swahili. Secondary school is taught in English. However, not all of the teachers are proficient in English, and many of the students understand it. The government standard is 40 students to one teacher, but due to a lack of teachers and classrooms, at times there are 120 students to one teacher.

A report from a university student from the United States conducting ethnographic research in Mgaraganza stated that the teachers had the following amount of experience: “5 months, 5 months, 4 yrs, 5 yrs, 7 yrs, 5 months, 5 months, 8 yrs, 2 yrs.” Even the most skilled English as a Second Language teacher, with years of experience, would have a difficult time meeting the needs of a classroom full of 120 students. These students need more than more teachers. They need chairs to sit on, desks to work out, pencils to write with, paper to take notes. There are so many needs in this world.  Map of Tanzania

My project overview

I asked Rai Farrelly, co-founder of Project Wezesha what she thinks the greatest needs are and how I can I best serve the students and teachers at the Amahoro Secondary School. Through our conversations, we have established that my work will consist of five main projects and one secondary project.

The main project will be to provide teacher trainings. I believe that this experience will allow me to have the largest impact because if each teacher that I interact with has 120 students in their class than I can indirectly reach an entire school. All of my musings focus on how best to relate to educators who have had a different educational background but share the same goal of having a positive impact on children.

Our daughters need help. These are not our actual daughters. They are the daughters of the world. They are the next generation of scientists, engineers, and government officials. They need the space to explore who they are as individuals. The space to develop healthy friendships with other girls to grow in support, not in competition. Our daughters need to discuss gender and sexuality: to gain the voice and confidence to give consent. They need to understand their bodies and how to take care of them. It will not be possible for me to achieve all of these desired outcomes, but I can plant seeds that will grow by facilitating an after-school girls’ club.

The term “summer slide” refers to the tendency for students to lose the academic progress they made during the school year over the summer. This is true in Tanzania as well as in the States. As result, Project Wezesha offers December study camps. This is a 30-day camp that permits students to live near school, offers three meals day, and provides instruction and academic support in various content areas. I will work alongside my Tanzanian colleagues to teach one of the classes during the study camp.

Co-teaching a humanities course in at the secondary school will permit the opportunity to support English language acquisitions of the teacher and students. It will create the space for ongoing mentoring by modeling best practices and providing observations and feedback as well as classroom support. Having worked in a middle school for nine years, I am thrilled that I will be interacting with a similar age group. I naturally gravitate to their age group; their curiosity is rich, their hearts are sincere, and their personalities and opinions still developing.

I will facilitate a Roots and Shoots program through the Jane Goodall Institute. I will use the design cycle to frame the various steps of the project for the students: identify a problem, formulate design requirements, brainstorm prototypes, design a solution, follow the plan, evaluate the solution, update the solution. Students will develop compassionate leadership skills and traits through this process while deepening their understand of the ecological, environmental, and economic impacts of their actions.

Finally, Rai reports that small cuts often lead to big infections in the village. As a Wilderness First Responder, I will not only be able to provide direct care but also share teach students how to treat basic wounds. Thus improving the health and lives of the students and their families.

I look forward to applying my experience and skills in a very different setting.