August 29, 2017
You probably know some families who choose to home-school their children. Home-schooling parents report that they educate their kids at home for many reasons - some of the common ones are: so that children learn important life-skills, so that children enjoy the learning process more, so that the family can spend more time together, and so that the kids have more time to explore their other interests.
World-schooling is an increasingly popular form of home-schooling where families learn while traveling together. The idea is that most of the education takes place outside of formal lessons. Also called road-schooling, this form of learning taps the wealth of resources found in the environments and cultures of destinations the traveling families visit.
The World Is Your Classroom
It’s not just a saying! Experiential learning is proven to be very effective. Being immersed in an experience opens us up to deeper levels of comprehension. Parents who expand the classroom to encompass more of the world know that they’re providing their young ones with a wider range of experiences and information than the kids might receive if they were living and learning in one place.
The parents believe that these experiences will benefit their children in both the short and long-term. World-schoolers profit from incidental learning - learning without a specific goal or aim in mind. Students gain knowledge about whatever inspires them along their journeys instead of sticking to a pre-determined lesson plan.
Kids feel empowered when they can immediately apply the new lessons they’re learning. They know that what they’re spending their time mastering is valuable and can be used in real life - versus the common refrain of “when am I ever going to use this?” that can be heard echoing through public school hallways.
Students can learn math skills while helping to plan a food budget or coordinate travel times. They’ll likely feel very connected to their history lessons when they’re literally standing in the sites that they’re also reading about. A world classroom provides all sorts of amazing learning opportunities.
Take An “Edventure”
Let’s face it - most children don’t feel excited about sitting at a desk for a majority of the day listening to adults talk at them. Parents know that receiving an education is so important to the future success of their children. World-schooling is a solution that meets kids’ needs for stimulation and activity and parents’ needs for ensuring that their young ones learn valuable skills and information.
“Edventures” are adventures that families embark upon that emphasize both exploration and education. For example a family might visit a park or natural area where they trek and camp but also spend time focusing on learning about ecology of various biomes or on expanding literary skills by reading literature written about the area.
Outside The Box, Into The World
World-schooling is a lifestyle that works for families who are excited to step away from the norm. It emphasizes being present in your surroundings, taking advantage of the learning opportunities that surround you each day, and creating time in your family’s schedule for adventure.
How does your family learn from the world as its classroom? Share some of your most memorable world-schooling experiences (formal or informal) with us in the comments below.
Image Credit: World-schooling family photo from http://worldschooladventures.com/ where you can follow the edventures of an unschooling family.
Amara Evans is a vibrational healer, collective consciousness-raiser, writer, and devotee of the Goddess. She loves to connect with her global community through writing about important topics like the environment, spirituality, and fair trade.
August 16, 2017
1: Timing Is Everything
A part of maintaining any practice during travel that can feel particularly challenging is timing. Most of us are creatures of habit in our daily lives. We wake up, go to work, interact with loved ones, eat, and explore our other interests at approximately the same times - give or take a little. And we find the perfect time to fit in our daily practice(s).
Moving between time zones, staying in temporary lodging situations with various check in and check out times, local cultures, and transportation timing can combine to create a varied schedule. Shaking things up is a joy of traveling and doesn’t have to interfere with your practice!
Simply make time every day to meditate. You can choose to commit to meditating at the same time each day (of course it’s always best to be compassionate with yourself if you miss a day) - or - commit to an amount of time that you will meditate each day and plan ahead for the coming week.
2: Get Outside
Many of us travel to experience the Earth in new ways. Each place on our planet has its own unique power and beauty. Taking the time to slow down and be present while in nature allows us to connect more deeply with the Earth.
Of course the type of trip you’re on will determine how far into the wilds you’ll go - or not. If you’re trekking in the Himalayas you’ll have access to a different type of nature experience than you will if you’re cafe hopping through Paris. Both can offer amazing outdoor experiences and you’re guaranteed inner growth if you do an outdoor meditation in a city park or on the side of a mountain.
3: Planes, Trains, & Automobiles
Meditation is a wonderful way to replenish ourselves mind, body, and spirit. So it’s a great thing that you can do to recharge your batteries while you’re a passenger on a bus, train, plane, or some other form of transportation.
Let someone else take the wheel for a while so to speak and allow your mind to rest. Meditation is a practice and it’s beneficial to practice in as many circumstances as possible. Meditating while in motion can stimulate deeper stillness within us.
4: Sacred Spaces
No matter where you are in the world or what size village or city you’re in there will usually be at least one religious space. These buildings contain reservoirs of peaceful energy that are very supportive of prayer and meditation.
Even if you aren’t religious or don’t practice the particular religion of that building you will usually be welcome to enter as long as you’re respecting the local etiquette. You’ll most likely have an interesting cultural experience.
You may even gain entirely new insights and perspective after spending time in meditation in new religious spaces!
5: Public Spaces
Sometimes we become set in certain patterns of behavior. We can get used to meditating alone and in quiet spaces if that’s what we normally do. Being surrounded by the hustle and bustle of a busy airport can allow us to become like a pebble in the bottom of a stream allowing the rush to flow around our point of stillness.
Experiment with meditating in public - have fun with it! Busy places invite us to include the sounds and smells around us into our practice. We can do this either by focusing our awareness on them or by simply noticing our awareness of them and letting them go.
Remember that however you choose to meditate while traveling will be perfect for you - the important part is deciding to practice! With a little dedication you can maintain or even build a fulfilling meditation practice during your journey.
About the author:
Amara Evans is a holistic healer, collective consciousness-raiser, writer, and devotee of the Goddess. She loves to connect with her global community through writing about important topics like the environment, spirituality, and fair trade.
January 09, 2017 1 Comment
Most of us are aware that traveling creates new perspectives and opportunities, but did you know that volunteering abroad actually opens the door to a whole new world -- to a world of give and take, of mutually beneficial and lasting relationships, and of purpose and connection! If this sounds like the kind of world you'd love to live in, then read on because I've been doing this for a while now, and I have a few fabulous convincing reasons for you to jump on board!
1. Use Your Skills
Yep, you heard me... You've got talent! Now it's time to share it with the world! You may be thinking that you have nothing to offer since let's face it, you've been waiting tables night and day for a year and a half to pay for this spectacular adventure to a land far and away. But don't underestimate yourself, you're great with people, with systems, with speed and efficiency... heck, you can make the grumpiest of grumpy people feel satisfied at the end of the day (never mind what you mumbled under your breath). And hey, if you've been in management of any kind back home, your leadership skills will carry you and be of great service abroad!
Just for fun, I started my own personal travel blog and with learning the ins and outs of the blogging world, it has landed me two blogging volunteer opportunities in two different countries! Believe it or not, my schooling finally paid off as I've even had the opportunity to find a use for my dusty public relations degree. I was super excited to learn additional skills to take home with me as well.
You give some and take some -- It's the best thing about traveling and volunteering.
2. Learn a New Skill
Like I said, I absolutely LOVE learning! Skills that I can take with me into my future are of course, the most rewarding. Sometimes I don't even realize the extent of how much I've learned! I do know this though: I became, and am still becoming more knowledgeable about the blogging world, social media, website building, product management and much more.
To spend time learning new skills is never a waste and along with hands on experience, it's a great way to build your credentials for future volunteering or new job opportunities. Not only are you building your own future, you are building a future for communities around the world!
3. Find a New Passion or Hobby
Have you always worked with adults?
After volunteering in an orphanage, I found that my heart beat with a passion for working with children and creating a better life for the youth. Regardless of what you learn about yourself and your passions, your experience abroad opens your eyes to a new world.
When I volunteered in Peru at an after-school children's program, the positive changes I saw in the little ones were directly in front of my eyes everyday. It's something that will stay close to me forever. Their smiles were addictive!!
4. Find a New Direction in Life
When I was younger, I always thought I wanted to live in a city or work for a large company. However, after volunteering in a farm, I realized how much I love being in nature and getting my hands dirty. It complements my peaceful disposition and my views on life much more than spending hours in the car and punching in the clock with no true purpose. It blew my door of perspective wide open! Volunteering in a farm offered me knowledge of permaculture, organic gardening, composting and other sustainable farming techniques.
I decided that to understand where my food comes from and living a sustainable lifestyle are important to me. Due to my varied volunteer travel experiences, I’ve reconsidered how I choose to live my life. Yay!
5. Learn Something New About Yourself
Ah, this is one of my favorite aspects of trotting around the globe and immersing myself in other cultures. Traveling not only teaches you many things about yourself but the world around you and those that live in it. Adding in a volunteer experience heightens this understanding. For instance, if you thought you preferred to work in a group environment you may find that working solo allows you to work more efficiently. While volunteering at a community center for the sick and poor in Myanmar, I realized that helping sickly elders and putting a smile on their face is what gives me a sense of purpose and contentment.
6. Learn About a New Culture
Volunteering opens doors to cultural differences as it allows you to spend time with locals -- asking questions, hearing stories and learning things you could never learn on the backpacker's trail. You will most likely eat and live like the locals as well, giving you a true experience of everyday life.
My time in Peru was spent living with a local family of four. They opened my eyes to an amazing new culture I thought I knew more about. They brought me to family birthday parties, showed me how to celebrate the lives of deceased loved ones, cooked mouth-watering Peruvian food for me and even taught me how to make it! Living with locals gave me much more time to create deeper connections and relationships with the indigenous people.
7. Meet Other Volunteers
While traveling, and especially while volunteering, you're likely to be surrounded by like-minded people from all over the world. It’s a great opportunity to share travel stories, tips and advice. To learn about the culture of where you're volunteering is priceless, and to learn about cultures from many different countries is an added bonus.
I personally have created lifelong friendships with other members of my volunteer team. Although we are far apart, there is something very unique in the connection we created in special places and conversations away from home. You don't get to eat pig foot soup, experience a live fish pedicure or find yourself with a flat moped tire in the middle of nowhere in a foreign country at night with just anyone! Now that’s a beautiful way to open a new door to friendship, isn't it?!
8. Challenge Yourself
More challenges are likely to arise than not while you're volunteering but that just means more growth! It’s a perfect opportunity to learn about yourself. I received my yoga certification at the start of my trip in hopes of sharing my love and knowledge for the practice. While I was volunteering in Thailand, a couple of other volunteers asked me to teach a class. I was scared because I had a huge fear of being in front of a group but I said yes. Because the opportunity had been put right in front of me. Although I did not teach a class in the end because of other reasons, I did prepare and practice a class. And the fact that I said yes was a good start, right?
I will continue to say yes to teaching opportunities, and other opportunities that align with my passions and goals. Because just by challenging myself to say yes, I realized it wouldn’t be so bad after all. I felt empowered and confident -- attributes I strive to maintain. Facing fears, stepping out of your comfort zone and taking on new challenges offer strength and growth; two important qualities you can bring along, wherever life may take you.
9. Give Back to the Community
Volunteering allows you to leave a positive footprint and impression in the country you are exploring. It breaks down doors between what may seem like two different worlds. You are then not only a traveler but a part of the community.
Getting involved in a fair trade company for instance, is a great way to take part in not only a sustainable economy, but a thrivable economy. Helping to improve the lives of locals by creating a livable income for them and their families, maintaining cultural traditions and remaining environmentally friendly are just to name a few.
Before I had the amazing opportunity to volunteer with Global Groove Life, I really didn’t know what fair trade meant. I was aware it had a positive impact in the world but being a part of it allowed me to truly understand how important it is. It changed my entire mindset in terms of when, where and how we make our purchases and its positive (or negative) effects on communities. Sharing this experience and knowledge with others is a powerful way to make the world a better place.
10. Take a Break from Sightseeing
Sure, seeing temples and waterfalls is wonderful, but stepping off the backpacker trail is a breath of fresh air and offers new perspectives. Personally, I need a break from taking pictures, hoards of tourists (yes, I know I’m one as well and probably just as bothersome), and being surrounded by anything less than authentic. I do my best to live each day with gratitude and appreciation however, I see it as a sign that I need to slow it down when I’m not super thrilled to see the biggest Pagoda in Myanmar because I’ve already seen hundreds of them around Asia. I promise, I'm really not a snob! Taking some time to volunteer, learn a new way of life and change up my routine, recharges my appreciation for traveling, and the incredible things I get to see on my adventures. When traveling long-term, settling in one place for awhile can be exactly what I need to gather my thoughts, reflect on my experiences and get ready to hit the road again.
These feet get itchy quickly, so here's a quick list of cool sites to check out for your next volunteer opportunity:
So, in what ways do you benefit from volunteering? What have you learned along the way?
About the Author
Amber Johnson is a yoga enthusiast and passionate traveler. She loves cultural connection, a good laugh and exploring her curiosities.
Follow her bucket list adventures at This Tiny Backpack.