Monday, January 19, 2009

Common paths, Like passions

A lot has happened in the New Year here at the IW grad program...

1) We were welcomed back to campus, which was finally sans snow (Bainbridge had been dumped on for weeks in December, an unusual and crippling blast!), by our friends and colleagues with a nice breakfast and an Adventure Race around the 'Wood. Super fun!

2) We participated in an amazing naturalist mentoring workshop called Coyote Mentoring, given by kind, wonderful leaders from Duvall's Wilderness Awareness School. It poured on us all day, but it was great to get back to slogging through the woods and mud for the education and the fun of it.

3) We started some great new classes and refocused on the overarching goals of IslandWood. What are we even doing here, again? Oh yeah: Providing exceptional learning experiences and inspiring lifelong environmental and community stewardship! It felt good to remember that.

4) We team-taught our first group of Seattle kiddos since before the break, and got the chance to really work on integrating each other's strengths into a collaborative, complementary approach to giving students a great experience. It was fun and interesting to see team teaching in this challenging new light.

5) Most of us ventured off our little island into some real wilderness in the North Cascades mountains--which in itself is exciting and refreshing--but what's more is that we were given this wonderful chance to meet our peers from two other Washington environmental ed centers: North Cascades Institute and Wilderness Awareness School.

This last great experience kind of put the icing on the cake. It was beautiful, dramatic, soul-inspiring, nature-tingling, and most of all, a celebration of new friendships and a coming together of young, varied, and poetic passions. The instructors at these two other schools told us their jokes, shared their experiences teaching kids, and taught us their campfire songs (and we shared ours too). We learned about each other and played in the snowy mountains together, venturing up snowshoe paths to streams, avalanches, waterfalls, and views of Diablo Lake. We can't thank the gracious NCI folks enough for an amazing time!

I know this post is going on and on, but one more thing: With all of this happening so fast and so smoothly, I just need to make a point to say how happy I am to be back here. Our two-week winter break seemed much shorter than I would have wanted for seeing the family, friends, and places I missed so much back home in New England, and I have to admit I didn't feel ready to leave it again. But the instant I set foot back into the deep green of the IslandWood fir, cedar, and sword fern forest, I started learning again. Things have bounded forward for me another ten steps; it's almost as if it were brand new again. How many people can say that about grad school?

PS- Check out NCI and WAS!
Chattermarks - the North Cascades Institute blog
Wilderness Awareness School's Web site

1 comment:

John said...

Thanks to all of you at Islandwood. Warren and I really enjoyed ourselves and hope we've passed on tools to help you in your journey ahead.

We look forward to crossing paths again soon and hope the educator exchange goes smoothly.

With thanks,

John (From Wilderness Awareness School)