Fearless Group Week One: February 2, 2014
Hello from Xizhou!
With a gentle nudge from one of our students' parents, I was encouraged to write a quick write-up about the week that was. On this Day 9 of 28 of the Fearless Group's adventure, there is plenty to share about our time together so far. A good day for it: today we celebrated Ms. Mai's birthday by waking up to a beautiful sunrise outside our tents at the lakeside campsite.
This is the first of the Microcampus groups to make their home at the beautiful Linden Centre, and we have been warmly received by the entire staff. As I write, a group of Dongjing music performers are warming up, ready to treat us to music dating back to the Tang Dynasty.
As Hai Sam and I worked with our school's teachers, administrators, parents, and students to develop the program over the past four years, we made decisions based on our goals to maximize opportunities for our students to have the "Big Four" components of the Microcampus program. Namely:
- experiential learning in which students engage in meaningful activities that require them to depend on themselves, their peers, chaperones, and outside experts in order to solve problems they encounter;
- personal growth that results from adventure and challenges, broadening boundaries and comfort zones through reasonable risk-taking, problem solving, and thoughtful choices;
- expanding intercultural understanding as students interact with members of local communities and their surroundings; and
- having a positive impact on the places we visit and the people who live there through shared experience, responsible actions, and environmental awareness.
These goals are not only for the students, but for all participants in the program--including the students' parents and, indeed, their chaperones.
This past week has included all of those on an ongoing basis, from settling in during the first days all the way to jumping right into the local Spring Festival events, our students have truly become a part of this beautiful village and the surrounding area. On Friday the students took to the first hills near the base of Cangshan Mountains to our west, and last night they camped next to beautiful Lake Erhai. They have learned to reach out to the community for expertise related to their inquiry projects, and are especially good at taking care of one another. Ms. Mai and I are very fortunate to have such a strong group of students who have come together to make the most of their opportunities.
There have been mistakes along the way--an important piece of any learning process--and students have made the most of these moments during this wonderful, confusing, energy-filled chapter of their life story.
Do have a look at the students' journal entries, daily video shout-outs, and profile photos taken during their time in Xizhou. The students love to hear from friends and family members from around the world--do feel free to continue to comment on their work.
Coming soon: hitting our stride with Phase 3 of our inquiry project, and then off for our three-day hike/camping trip in the mountains above the Erhai valley. Big adventures to come!