What have been my ‘alternative educations’?
Among other things, this year my ‘other education’ has included the experiences of my own children. My daughter has been travelling and volunteering in Latin America. My son and daughter-in- law have been in India for a few months and have recently begun volunteer work there . I have learned a huge amount about the countries in which they have been travelling and volunteering, both directly from them, and from reading which I have done in order to better understand the background of where they are and what they are doing.
I have learned about fascinating places and interesting people. I have learned about life in Quetzaltenango in Guatemala, Banos in Ecuador and Ahmedabad in India. I have learned about the customs of the The Day of the Dead and Diwali and a range of other exotic sounding festivals.
I have learned about the effects of development on the Amazon in Peru, the tragic stories that have brought children to a Mexican orphanage, the determination of a group of volunteers to assist an Ecuadorian child with a tumor to gain access to treatment. I have learned about the extremes of India, the plight of the dalits (untouchable caste) and the Nasvarjan organisation which is working towards equality of status across religion, caste and gender. I have begun to understand much more about poverty, disparity in education, lack of health care and other inequalities that exist in our world.
But also… I have learnt that there are many selfless and courageous people out there, who are committed to doing something to try and improve our world in whatever small way they can. My own first step has been to apply to volunteer with SOLE and SOME, to facilitate learning over skype for children in remote areas of India. I know this tiny step is not enough.
Above all, I have learned about and from my own children. And I need to say to them… Thank you for helping to provide my ‘other education’ !
What are your ‘other educations’?