Reflecting on the start of a new adventure

Being reflective

Being reflective

I am Manoj Chapagain, 19 years old and I am from Nepal.  After spending five years in Thailand; where I not only got my high school IB Diploma but I also had the time of my life. It was honestly the best experience so far because not only did I get my education but I also met so many people who helped to shape my life in a different way.  I got the opportunity to travel to many places and many other experiences which will always be part of my nostalgia.

manoj

I am currently a freshman at Westminster College, in the United States, Missouri, Fulton.  The life in Fulton is very different to my high school in Thailand. My school was near the city, which was designed for tourists, so there were lots of activities to do. Whereas here in Fulton, there is not much to do at all and it is a very small town.

Taking in the local sport

Taking in the local sport

College life is very different than I had imagined, you have got a lot of free time and you have to make sure that you do everything that is necessary for you to do. Which I am finding not very easy as I was used to relying upon someone telling me what to do during my high schooling in the boarding house, etc. Not only that, college is tougher than I though it would be.

Westminster Campus

Westminster Campus

 

This semester I am doing Spanish, Ethics and academic writing and a few others which are one credit classes.  They are all very interesting and challenging but the most challenging for me is Ethics. Ethics is a very interesting subject, I have learned about social norms and different perspectives of different ethics.  It can be very challenging because it requires a lot of reading and it can be hard to understand the main concept at times.

New friends (Frat boys?)

New friends (Frat boys?)

I am enjoying the experiences so far and I have made a couple of very good friends who I know are going to be life time friends already. I have also joined a Frat, I thought it would be a good way to experience American culture by joining the Frat, because it is one of the big traditions in colleges for many years.

Submitted by Manoj Chapagain; Being Reflective, Global Mentor Award

If you liked this post you may also like to read this:  The Michigan Difference

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Aware, Able, Act

Have you ever heard a tree breathe?

Have you ever heard a tree breathe?

Aware, Able, Act:  separately three simple words but together they combine to make a very powerful vision.  A school’s curriculum or learning programme (as I prefer to call it) is very similar to this concept.  We constantly use words to describe and explain all aspects of education and teaching, each one with their own relevance to specific students and their progress through school, each one seemingly important in their own right: assessment, holistic, standards, creativity, progress, leadership, independent, collaborative, the list goes on…  These words can look and sound very impressive and you will often see them on most school’s websites, in prospectuses and throughout publicity materials that promote and explain elements of a curriculum.  They mean very little though if there is nothing to bring them together, to link them like a helix that intertwines through everything a school does for its students and make learning authentic.  A really good school will have a learning programme that does this, and will be fully aware of the ‘DNA’ that brings these words and their impact on the students alive.

crushing egg shells for fertiliser

crushing egg shells for fertiliser

Aware:  All schools provide students with knowledge; it is the basis of education and the key objective to passing tests and exams ultimately gaining qualifications to (apparently?) be successful in life.  There is a lot more to life than just passing examinations therefore we want our students to be inquirers and critical thinkers to become socially and emotionally intelligent, not solely to be spoon-fed and reliant upon the passing of information, there is so much more to know, to feel and to find out.  Realistically students today can find the answer to anything without a teacher (my son is forever on Youtube watching National Geographic); the important thing is the process and how to gain the knowledge and questioning its validity.

what a learning environment!

what a learning environment!

Able:  Education is not from the neck up!  It is important to allow our students to learn in the ways that best suit them, to use all of their senses, emotions and skills, to be able to learn outside of the box.  A good test (for the students and teacher!) would be to observe a class with no teacher and to see what the students would do?  Giving children the knowledge and making them aware is important but a good programme will also ‘equip’ them, give them the tools and the confidence to use their knowledge, to be independent learners and to share it with others.

we dance together

we dance together

Act:  Too many people make the mistake of jumping straight into action.  Without real awareness and the vested time in life skills, cultural awareness and confidence building then this can be a negative experience rather than a proactive one and in the long-term this can be quite damaging in many ways.  With accurate and detailed knowledge and a confident skill set young people are empowered to make a difference, and they will.  This is not a powerful vision but a reality.

going above and beyond for learning

going above and beyond for learning

The Global Citizenship Award realizes this reality and helps young people graduate from school:  Aware, Able and Acting.  You to can also be part of this learning experience and make the most of your potential as a global citizen.  Choose an Identity, set yourself a challenging target and get reflecting – we look forward to hearing from you soon.

The Scottish Referendum

Contributed by Karen Partyka

Karen's voting card

Karen’s voting card

On Thursday 18th September the Scottish people had the extraordinary opportunity to vote for or against independence. It was very interesting living in the country leading up to the day, things were much tighter than perhaps people could have hoped for. For me it was very inspiring seeing the pupils in my school who were eligible to vote throwing themselves into politics. Many that I spoke to had taken time to research the different options and thought carefully about their vote. They each took their vote seriously and felt they were making a difference in their country. Once they had made their decision they were passionate about their vote and got involved in the campaigning. Also in the school the younger pupils also were engaged. Even though they could not vote many had decided what they would have voted. There were many lively debates and discussions heard around the school, in the classrooms and in corridors.

But what struck me the most was how lucky I and the Scottish people were to have our democratic right to choose, to be able to go on the streets and campaign and engage with people and tell them what I had democratically chosen. There are many people in the world who do not have that right and in some cases do not have the freedom of speech.

Pantila, as head student, encouraging whole school voting for student leadership positions during election time

Pantila, as head student, encouraging whole school voting for student leadership positions during election time

I have a friend who told when he votes in his country, you go into the booth, mark your card with “your choice” then someone “checks” you have chosen the candidate that the government has decided will win then you put your card in the box. This is happening today! In these countries they would be arrested for campaigning for their candidate if it was not the chosen one. Today there are 5 communist countries where people do not have the democratic right to openly vote, there are also many more countries which have restrictions about freedom of speech and freedom of the press. According to the Press Freedom Index 2014 “the bottom three countries freedom of information is non-existent”. The Index lists 180 countries and Eritrea is 180th, North Korea 179th and Turkmenistan 178th. Other countries which have terrible records for free speech are Cuba and China and both these countries have the biggest prisons in the world for journalists according to the Press Freedom Index.

senior students facilitating discussion and debate regarding changes in their school constitution

senior students facilitating discussion and debate regarding changes in their school constitution

There are also countries where criticism of their religion or monarchy is illegal and people are imprisoned for committing these crimes.

All the information about lack of democracy and freedom of speech makes me realise that on Thursday 18th September 2014 along with 84% of the Scottish population we cast our vote in a democracy with no fear of imprisonment.

Mekong Memories

The Mekong In Chiang Kong, Thailand, looking over to Laos

The Mekong In Chiang Kong, Thailand, looking over to Laos

I have always had a fascination for rivers. I always looked for them on maps tracking them across continents, through countries and comparing their physical features and statistics.

Growing up in the UK we always walked along rivers and I once had the misfortune (probably my own fault) to fall into the River Trent as a child! This didn’t put me off my fascination though and I enjoyed studying river systems and their morphology through school and into university. It is one of my favourite topics to teach bringing the river alive and helping students understand the interconnections that it plays in both our rural and urban landscapes.

Slow boats on the Mekong at Huay Xai In Laos

Slow boats on the Mekong at Huay Xai In Laos

To be able to visit and explore some of the worlds major rivers is a real treat – UK rivers are special but not the most majestic! I hope to tick a few more off my list in the near future. At present we are on a (slow) boat motoring down the Mekong River as it follows the Laos and Thai border and gradually takes us into northern Laos and towards our final destination, Luang Prabang.

On the slow boat

On the slow boat

The power is awesome, a snaking mass of brown water. A monster conveyor belt of muddy sediment that once formed the physical landscape of Central Asia. Like the ocean a river can humble you and make you realise the significance of your being – how many civilisations has the Mekong witnessed? How many more will it outlast? It brings life but also destruction.

Evening in Pak Beng, Laos, looking down at the Mekong

Evening in Pak Beng, Laos, looking down at the Mekong

I have had plenty of time to reflect the last two days on the slow boat and had challenged myself to be more creative and not just tot rely on photos. So Jonah and I wrote some poems and I even learnt from him what a haiku is. We dedicate the following to our inspiration – the River Mekong:

By Jonah:

Fast flowing river
Cold, freezing sometimes warm there
Starts from high mountains

Plants
Green, tall
Growing, drinking, eating
They give us oxygen
Animals

Water
Wet, cold
Raining, evaporating, drinking
Ones hot, ones cold
Steaming, killing, melting
Hot burns
Lava

By Paul:

Mother Mekong moves
Shifting sediment and land
Making its way home

Mekong
Asias greatest
Flows through time
Bringing people
Together

Many meandering miles
Emptying Eastern empires
King of all rivers
Onwards to the ocean
Never knowing, just
Growing and growing

Congratulations to Megan Liaw on achieving the Global Ambassador Award

Learn to know, Learn to do, Learn to be, Learn to live together

To see Megan’s portfolio of targets and reflections for the Global Ambassador Award please follow: Megan’s reflections

*Unfortunately we are not able to link to Megan’s CAS (creativity, action and service) blog at present, which has a much broader and diverse range of reflections within it.

Megan representing the Girl Up group poses with special guest and Thai superstar - YaYa

Megan representing the Girl Up group poses with special guest and Thai superstar – YaYa

Comment from Megan:

Everything I did to complete the reward benefited me in more than one way. The experience was worthwhile and even though I have completed the award, I am habitually more aware of my actions and its’ impact on the society. It took me just over a year to complete the award.

Megan is also the Pillar Leader for Democracy in her current school and works hard to ensure that student leadership, student voice and governance is a democratic option and transparent process for all.

Congratulations Megan on being an amazing Global Citizen.  We look forward to hearing about your progress and achievements in becoming a Global Mentor.

 Assessed by: Paul Crouch and Brittany Tang

 

A (democratic) family adventure…

Deciding on a six month sabbatical is an exciting and also daunting family decision but one that we have decided to do together and with joint ownership.  We are confident that our three children will gain much from the following months of adventure, travel and community engagement as will both my wife and I.  We have started by choosing our favourite aspects of Thailand that we want to re-visit before moving on permanently and also those places that we never got the chance to experience over the last few years.  Below is an image of our kitchen blackboard and our top five choices that we are working through over the next couple of months:

blackboard

As part of the sabbatical we are also challenging ourselves to be reflective learners and to become more effective digital global citizens.  One of my personal and professional targets is to increase my own digital profile and to challenge myself to utilise social media and online resources to become a better learner and educator.  Developing this blog (and the future potential of it) is definitely taking me out of my comfort zone #goomcz.  Creating a Twitter account has also been a big step for me but something I definitely see the benefit of having and being able to connect and collaborate with inspiring educators and leaders throughout the world.  I hope that I can connect my Twitter account and blog effectively in the near future… watch this space!

As ever, teaching and learning is all about role modelling and as a family we are all sharing our learning experiences.  Jonah, our oldest, has created his first ever Weebly, and I have to say is a lot better than me at this – as are most young learners growing up in this digital age and a significant reason why we must embrace this change and not resist it or be afraid of it.  You can follow his blog here:

http://jonahcrouch.weebly.com/

My other two kids are writing (and drawing) learning journals and I am sure that between Jonah and myself we will post a number of entries and images from their journals at different times in the future.

 

GOING OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE – PAUL CROUCH’S FAREWELL TO REGENTS AFTER 15 YEARS

With #kroojit at Baan Huay Sapad School in Chiang Mai

His ability to create meaningful and sustainable community partnerships, his success in encouraging students and others to actively engage with their community and his drive to empower students to confidently reach beyond their ‘comfort zone’ is one of a kind. Paul Crouch will be dearly missed by our students and alumni, our staff and community partners.

We have asked Paul Crouch to share with us what he believes makes Regents so special:

Initially, I had only planned to come out to Thailand for two years, but instead it ended up being fifteen years and I will be leaving with a loving wife (10 years of marriage this year) and three children who mean the world to me.  Regents International School Pattaya has been such a huge and significant part of my life and I will always be grateful for the time I have had at the school and living and working in this amazing community.  I am glad that I have grabbed every opportunity and put my maximum effort, commitment and passion into everything I have aimed for and been asked to achieve. 

From teaching ICT to the whole Primary School, to being the Head of the Geography Department, to hosting International Round Square Conferences and now being an Assistant Principal, it has truly been a fantastic journey of self-discovery and professional learning. The phrase “going out of your comfort zone” seems to have become attributed to me at Regents (probably because I say it too much); but it is this physical, mental and emotional concept of trying something new and challenging yourself and learning from it, that makes a Regents’ truly holistic education so inspiring – as Kurt Hahn, the father of Round Square said: “there is more in you than you think”. 

Looking back on the last fifteen years, I suddenly realise the importance of that decision to leave the UK for Thailand – to go out into the unknown and to discover what education and life-long learning is really about and to grab it and make the most of it.

This time, as I try to walk the talk, and go out of my comfort zone for a second time, I am not doing it alone but with my family and three young children eager to learn about the world. I am excited for them, as much as for myself, to enter this new chapter, to go into the unknown once again and to seek out a whole new set of opportunities and learning experiences – anything can happen!  I leave Regents and Thailand as a much better teacher but I know I will come back as an even better one, because as we all know:  anyone that really understands the magic of Regents always comes back! ”  

Paul Crouch #gooycz