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French newspaper article about Catlin Gabel group visit

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Article in La Depeche, France

Video of Upper Schoolers and Japanese visitors playing Jankenpon

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Upper School students honored and surprised their guests from Gifu Kita High School on January 9, 2013, with a twist on the Japanese game of Jankenpon (rock, paper, scissors).

Science teacher Veronica Ledoux's work with Teachers Across Borders South Africa

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Upper School science teacher Veronica Ledoux volunteered this summer for Teachers Across Borders South Africa, working for three weeks with 200 South African math and science teachers from rural schools to help update their skills. South Africa has identified the teaching and learning of math and science as national priorities.

Project founder Yunus Peer praised Veronica for her contributions, noting that she is personable, professional, and passionate about her work. "She made a positive difference for teachers who did not have the same academic experience that we are privileged to in the United States," he wrote to Catlin Gabel head Lark Palma.

"As institutions of higher learning, with such talented faculty, I believe the least we can do is share the knowledge we have about our profession with colleagues in the developing world who so desperately need help with content, methodology and the pedagogy of the subjects they teach, under the most challenging conditions," wrote Yunus. "I know that Veronica's presentation will inspire your faculty with the possibilities of service that advantaged private schools like ours can undertake, and by example, will highlight the values we want our students to embrace, too."


The difference she made in the lives of teachers and students was remarkable. She lit up the room and sparked a deep interest in the minds of her many students katalog stron

I was part of Veronica's team in South Africa and I just want to add to the school's comments. Veronica's hard work, dedication and positive energy made a huge impact. The difference she made in the lives of teachers and students was remarkable. She lit up the room and sparked a deep interest in the minds of her many students. Jane Heimerdinger (`Iolani School, Honolulu, Hawaii)

Costa Rica, Nepal, and Martinique trip blogs and photos

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Spring 2012

Students and teachers who are traveling abroad for WEB week and spring break blog and post photos when they have access to the Internet.

Check back frequently for updated stories from:

Nepal (Upper School)

Costa Rica (Middle School)

Martinique (Middle School)




Learning About Education Through Travel: L'Ecole Secretaire

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From the Fall 2011 Caller

By Siobhan Furnary '13

We strutted along the cracked sidewalk for about one and a half miles until we arrived at the school. It was the first time I’d seen a cloudy, hazy sky during our time in Kaolack, Senegal, a rural town populated by about 172,000 Senegalese.
As we passed a multitude of one-story homes along the main pothole-riddled street, a worn, white-stucco building, better known as “L’école secrétaire,” or “Secretary School,” loomed ahead. A group of 18 young women and just a few men, all in their early twenties, waited outside with handbags and meticulously done hair and makeup. Although a session of chatting and gossiping seemed essential before a morning of two two-hour classes, five or six students welcomed me with a gentle high-five followed through by a clasp at the hands.
Once their principal unlocked barred double doors, the students flooded inside, most making their way to the morning’s lecture class.
Women reached into their handbags, whipping out notebooks and pens as the lecturer began his talk on subjects unfamiliar to me as he spoke in French. My eyes couldn’t help but wander around the room while he gave his talk: a narrow, rectangular shaped classroom, with turquoise-painted walls, a chalkboard, wooden desks stretched down the room, and framed windows that peered down into a concrete courtyard—a lecture hall that would feel misplaced almost anywhere in the U.S. The second and last class of the morning was a proctored two-hour class, led by a computer program designed to teach the prospective secretaries how to type efficiently. Pairs of two shared a computer, much like the Macs we had thrown out of our garages years ago, and took turns striving to perfect the exercises at hand.
Although the young men and women weren’t enrolled in journalism, philosophy, environmental science, or neurology classes, their collegiate education promptly gave them the confidence to seek a secretarial position, exceeding their own and their families’ expectations.  

Catlin Gabel now makes it possible, through financial aid funds, for every Middle and Upper School student to participate in at least one global education trip abroad during their years at Catlin Gabel.



Learning About Education Through Travel: A School Day in Senegal

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From the Fall 2011 Caller

By Hannah Hay-Smith

In the spring of 2011 we, a group of 14 students, embarked on our trip to Senegal. The goal was to improve our French, explore a new culture, and work with a program called 10,000 Girls. Viola Vaughn created 10,000 Girls to help Senegalese girls stay in school and to teach them entrepreneurial skills. We spent a week doing home stays, in Kaolack, with some of these girls.
I lived with an 18-year-old named Mhakbé, who attended the public high school. Every day she walked two miles to her overpopulated school, which consisted of three concrete buildings and a large soccer field. On my first day of school, we had morning track and field. Each exercise was a competition, in which the most and least athletic students in the class were revealed. The most competitive of these activities was the high jump. We jumped, one at time, over the elevated bar and landed on the mat below. If you successfully cleared the bar and stuck your landing, you passed on to the next round. The other students, along with the gym teacher, judged each high jumper. I passed the first two rounds, but in the third round I hit the bar on the way over. The class snickered as I joined the other girls who had already been eliminated. I felt annoyed that the teacher let us be publicly humiliated and realized that no Catlin Gabel teacher would allow our peers to laugh at us, as he did. It was a reminder of the differences between the two schools.
In the afternoon, we attended math class. The room was dimly lit and crowded with students. The girls sat in the front of the room, while the boys were seated in the back. Once we’d taken our seats, the teacher, a tall Senegalese man, read everybody’s test scores aloud. For the second time that day I was surprised. I hadn’t taken the test, but I could still feel how embarrassing it would be to have my test scores read aloud.
As Mhakbé and I left her school, we walked by a pair of goats nibbling on grass. I realized that even if the classes and teachers were different than Catlin Gabel’s, some things were still the same: the kids were still eager to learn and still hard-working, and even six thousand miles away they still had goats on their school campus.  


Catlin Gabel now makes it possible, through financial aid funds, for every Middle and Upper School student to participate in at least one global education trip abroad during their years at Catlin Gabel.


Learning About Education Through Travel: Botswana 2011--An Education About Education

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From the Fall 2011 Caller

Botswana 2011: An Education About Education

By Fiona Noonan '12

Africa. When presented with this word, a litany of adjectives may swirl through one’s mind. One may stand above the rest, though: uneducated. While it is true that many people in Africa—as in all parts of the world—lack access to schools, supplies, and teachers, “uneducated” by no means describes this entire continent of extremely diverse people. A brilliant counterexample to the label “uneducated” is Botswana, a southern African republic whose national focus on schooling deserves attention, and certainly changed my perspective on what getting an education truly means.
This summer, a group of 13 Upper School students accompanied by our chaperones, science teacher Aline Garcia-Rubio ’93 and Richard Kassissieh, director of technology and learning innovation, traveled to Botswana for a trip that primarily revolved around interacting with people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. Since Botswana is the country with the second-highest HIV infection rate in the world, we aimed to educate ourselves about the virus and its ramifications—and to help those affected by it—to the extent possible. To achieve that end we tutored and played with HIV-positive children, painted a mural at a pediatric HIV clinic called the Botswana-Baylor Children’s Clinical Centre of Excellence, and engaged in dialogues with teens and adults about the effects of HIV and AIDS on Botswana’s culture and society. However, the unifying theme of all these activities extended beyond connections to HIV/AIDS. Each of our discussions, interactions, and services exposed us to something even greater: education.
Our trip took us all over Botswana, starting in the capital city of Gaborone, where we boarded at our sister school, Maru-a-Pula. MAP was our first encounter with any type of educational institution. Interestingly, as we discovered by living on campus, befriending the students, and attending classes, the term “sister school” extends beyond the mere relationship between CGS and MAP. In many ways, MAP perfectly mirrored Catlin Gabel in its large outdoor campus, commitment to service learning, and relatively small class sizes. Catering to wealthier families and very intelligent students, and widely considered one of the best high schools in Botswana, the parallels between the two schools were unmistakable.
While in Gaborone we also did various works of service through which we came across a completely different type of education. One of our main projects was a week-long project implementing a tutoring program for children at the Botswana Baylor Centre. Though an overwhelming 90% of children in Botswana go to school, one study has found that most are not doing well. In helping these children with basic math skills, we were able to provide essential practice in a one-onone format likely unavailable at their schools. Not every child expressed an interest in math, but to see even a few of them succeed was exciting. Despite any language barriers, I came to see math as a truly universal language, and I felt proud that our teaching had positively impacted the kids’ lives.
Our group departed from Gaborone and visited towns and villages farther north in the country. One of the villages we went to was Thabala, the tiny home town of alumna Mmaserame Gaefele ’11. We spent time with her family, who gave us a tour of everything, including the school. The fact that such a small town had a school surprised us, and as students rushed out of the schoolyard to follow us, we found out that it was not uncommon for such a school to exist. In fact, we discovered that almost every village in Botswana has some type of school, giving an incredible number of students the opportunity to learn and succeed in hopes of eventually going to a university.
This widespread access to teaching and learning is made possible by Botswana’s federal government, which allocates an overwhelming 21% of its total budget to education. As a result, every child can attend school, and can then, if accepted, attend the University of Botswana for free. The government will even pay for medical school anywhere in the world in hopes that students will return to Botswana and join the highly understaffed medical workforce. Based on these facts, the access to education in Botswana appears to be solid. However, as we travelled farther north to the village of Gumare, we experienced a slightly darker side of schooling in Botswana.
In Gumare we met pen pals with whom we had been corresponding. Our arrival marked the first day of their high school winter break. Though their real vacation had just begun, we learned that they had recently finished a five-week break of a very different kind. We came to Botswana in the wake of an eight-week long strike that had shut down schools all over the country as teachers refused to work. Our pen pals’ school suffered greatly as a result. With exams approaching, they were unable to learn necessary material for the test, and the older students had collectively resorted to teaching younger ones what they would need to know. On top of that, we were informed that many of the teachers in Gumare lack interest in their students as a result of involuntary placement in such a rural location.
Hearing all of this astonished me. To go teacherless for over a month after normally having indifferent teachers, and to still have the motivation to succeed and help others succeed, was admirable, and necessary.
My own pen pal, Pearl, told me all about high school, and about her desire to attend the University of Botswana upon graduation. Coming from a family of four girls and a single mother, Pearl told me it would be difficult, so she needed to pass and continue to pass her exams in order to make it. Unlike the students at Maru-a-Pula, most of whom are accepted to and can afford to attend universities all over the world, the students in Gumare have relatively limited opportunities to further their education and go to college. For Pearl and the rest of our pen pals, an education clearly meant more than homework and tests: it meant the chance at a better life.
Fortunately, I have never had to consider not being able to attend college. Seeing the passion for learning from such a broad range of scholars in Botswana forced me to consider the importance of my own education, to reflect on what an education means to me, and to subsequently feel ashamed of consistently taking it for granted. After viewing the exposure and access that Batswana have to education, though, I feel less guilty. The sheer number of kids enrolled in school is admirable, and though Botswana’s school system may be imperfect, it is on the right track.
Pearl will soon have to decide what to do after graduation, and if she wants to attend the University of Botswana, I believe she can.

Catlin Gabel now makes it possible, through financial aid funds, for every Middle and Upper School student to participate in at least one global education trip abroad during their years at Catlin Gabel.


Junior Maggie Boyd's film wins NW Film Center award

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Maggie's film, Someone That the World Forgot, received the Heart Award in the NW Film Center's Young People's Film Festival. Professional filmmakers selected the winning films from 150 entries.

Maggie made the movie last year during a collaboration project with students at Maru-a-Pula, our sister school in Botswana. The film is set to a poem by Lulwama K. Mulau, a Maru-a-Pula student.

Mature content.

» Watch Maggie's 3-minute film.

Sculptor from Ghana to visit Nov. 7 for arts residency & slide lecture

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Eric Adjetey Anang, a 27-year-old fantasy coffin sculptor from Ghana, will give a slide lecture on Monday, November 7, at 7:30 p.m. in the Gerlinger Auditorium at Catlin Gabel. He will discuss the history of Ghana’s Kane Kwei Carpentry Workshop and show slides that illustrate the process of building his sculptures. The slide lecture is free and open to the public.
Eric Adjetey Anang will be in Portland for residencies at Catlin Gabel (November 7-11) and the Oregon College of Art and Craft (October 31-November 4). He runs the Kane Kwei Carpentry Workshop in Ghana, which was started by his grandfather in the early 1950s. Kwei’s coffins, sculpted into forms such as boats, cars, musical instruments, tools, or animals to describe or honor their deceased elders, was recognized worldwide. Anang began working in his grandfather’s shop at age 8, and he began running the shop seven years ago. Anang’s work has been shown in Antwerp, is in the permanent collection of the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, and is in private collections around the world.
Anang’s recent travels include a trip in August 2011 to Novosibirsk, Russia, where he made two fantasy coffins for the Novosibirsk Cultural Museum (see He was an invited guest in September 2011 at the Gwangju Design Biennale in South Korea. A recent short film by a London producer about the Kane Kwei workshop can be seen at .

Catlin Gabel family's independent service in New Mexico

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Los Niños International volunteer opportunities

By Carrie Gotkowitz
Los Niños/Via International is a community development organization headquartered in San Diego, California, and Tijuana, Mexico. Our family has been involved with Los Niños for many years – my son Daniel's grandfather, Joseph Gotkowitz, started the microcredit program in the early 1990s. I was familiar with the Los Niños programs through contacts in San Diego, but had never visited any of the program sites. 

During spring break 2010, Daniel and I spent two days at the Los Niños program in Mexicali, Mexico. We visited a cactus farm, a beehive cooperative, a ladrillera (brickmaking business), and a preschool, which is the site of a xeroscape landscaping and playground installation project. We ate meals and slept at the Los Niños dormitory in Mexicali.

Los Niños Mexicali volunteers have helped with sustainable farming development projects, bridge building, xeroscape landscape installation, and playground construction. Volunteer work is directed by agronomists or construction supervisors. Los Niños provides Spanish language interpreters. Voluntourism trips include discussion and education on community health and nutrition, local and global economic forces driving migration, and U.S.-Mexico border relations. Volunteer and community contributions are used to fund projects.

Los Niños/Via International has a 37-year history in community development work. The organization focuses on family health and food security, nutrition, and ecology training, microenterprise and microcredit, community leadership education, and voluntourism programs. Los Niños offers voluntourism programs in San Diego, New Mexico, Tijuana and Mexicali, Mexico, and Guatemala.

Los Niños International