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Redefining Community: Linking the Global & the Local

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By Spencer White

From the Spring 2010 Caller

Our heads fill these days with reports of environmental degradation, the unraveling of indigenous communities, and the harsh realities of human conflict on our globe. I find this overwhelming and sometimes downright scary. I can only imagine how these problems make my 11-year-old students feel as they move through school, becoming more aware every year of the issues we, or they, will live through. Regardless of the life paths our students choose when they leave Catlin Gabel, they will face a world characterized by ever-increasing communication and collaboration with international communities. Technology has brought us the ability to maintain relationships and conduct business with people just about anywhere on the globe, at any time of the day. How our students engage in these relationships— in essence, their diplomacy—is of great importance to our world.

 
Our global education program seeks to foster global competencies in our students. Among these is the ability to work and communicate effectively across national, cultural, and linguistic boundaries. So how do we do this? Besides teaching world languages, or providing travel opportunities, how do we help our students build cross-cultural communication skills? The answer is, we practice. We practice by taking advantage of every opportunity we can to get kids to collaborate with their international peers.
 
Teaching students to be literate in cross-cultural communication requires two intentional activities. The first is creating meaningful relationships with people around the world—initially through email exchanges and interactive Skype conversations, and eventually through global travel.
 
The second act is linking these relationships to local peer groups. Our students must practice communicating about a specific issue, problem, or goal not only with local peers, but with peers of other cultures, languages, and nationalities. In this way we redefine the idea of community for our students, explicitly teaching that our actions and decisions affect not only our local community, but also those far away.
“Looking back in my journal I see how I have really never felt a connection with someone that far away from home before.” —Catlin Gabel student traveler
For example, Carter Latendresse’s 6th grade unit on food teaches students to critically examine how food is produced in the U.S. and compare our levels of consumption with that of other global communities. Making this tangible, the Garden Club’s new vegetable beds allow students to grow their own organic produce, as well as understand the influence the global food industry has on how we produce, transport, and learn about the norms of global food consumption.
 
Teachers David Ellenberg, Becky Wynne, and Laurie Carlyon-Ward, chaperones on this spring’s trip to Nepal, prepared 13 high school students by viewing Food Inc., a documentary on the U.S. food industry. Nepali students at the Sattya Media Arts Collective screened the film for our students’ visit, and together they talked about the arrival of fast-food restaurants in Katmandu. This spring, the students who traveled to Nepal will visit Carter’s 6th graders to talk about the perspectives of their Nepali peers.
 
Our community’s response to the Haitian earthquake in January most tangibly collected a sizeable sum of money to support Mercy Corps’s disaster relief work. But more notable was the fact that our Lower School students created pastel drawings with messages in French and Haitian Creole that were delivered personally by parents who traveled to Haiti to assist in the recovery. Our community grows stronger and more unified by working together to affect change in a distant place. From these collective efforts our students learn about the disparity between resources and power structures in our world—but they also see that they are not powerless in the face of all the world’s daunting problems, and that when we reach out to communities far away, we in turn strengthen our own.
“I really care about conserving water. I mean I did it before, but not nearly as much as I do now.” —Catlin Gabel student traveler
The Viewfinder Global Film Series is another example of how we challenge our community to unite around global issues, in the interest of educating our students. In its inaugural year, the series has hosted 23 films over 8 months of the school year—attended by more than 600 parents, students, and teachers. Far more impressive than the numbers, though, are the post-screening conversations that ignite passionate debate and reflection about how our school sees its place in our local and global communities.
“I was really surprised when I got back at the sheer amount of resources we use every day, how easy it is for us to have a hot shower, and how we take so much for granted.” —Catlin Gabel student traveler
As our students move into Upper School, their opportunities for local and global collaboration increase. Model United Nations challenges students’ diplomatic skills, while twice a week students board a bus to Aloha to help Latino children with homework. Many of these same students recently returned from Cuba. Apart from the humanitarian nature of the trip, the travelers learned the power of creating relationships with their Cuban counterparts and the life-changing nature of convening with a community so vastly different than their own. Leah Weitz ’10 saw this in action in Cuba, and she’ll never forget it: when she told their Cuban cabdriver about the humanitarian nature of their visit, he gratefully told her their ride would be free.
 
As an 18-year-old at Lewis & Clark College, I traveled to Argentina and Chile as part of my Hispanic studies degree. Six months in Mendoza living with modest third-generation immigrants of Italian descent taught me the power and potential of creating emotional connections with people outside my own community. Shy of the cliché of calling them my Argentine family, especially when talking with my “real” mother on the phone, I was shocked at how close I felt to them and how utterly dependent I was on their parenting and care. Perhaps I was an independent, self-sufficient young adult in the U.S., but in Argentina I was vulnerable and far from home. Here was my new community developing before my eyes.
“There is no real way to explain what has changed about me. What I can say is that the way I see things is as if I am seeing it on two planes, two perspectives. I see things the way I see it from Costa Rica and from the U.S.” —Catlin Gabel student traveler
We are fortunate at Catlin Gabel to have the opportunities and the means to develop international relationships through travel, technology, and the study of language. We are in the business of redefining for our students what community means, what it means to become a global citizen, and what it means to consider the global effects of daily decisions. In my mind, this fortune comes with a commensurate degree of responsibility. We have the responsibility not only to purposefully seek and create relationships in international communities, but we must always make an effort to connect these relationships to our daily curriculum, our school initiatives, and our local service work. These collaborations linking local action with global realties serve as important reminders of our need to change the way we think about community.  
 
Spencer White is Catlin Gabel's global education coordinator. He also teaches Middle School Spanish.

 

When Homework is More than Homework

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By Leah Weitz '10

From the Spring 2010 Caller

I’ll admit it—when I found out that my Spanish V Honors class had required community service hours, I was miffed. I had essays to write, classes to teach, tests to take—and geez, now this? But our teacher, Lauren Reggero-Toledano, insisted that to supplement our class focus on the Hispanic presence in Oregon, each student should go out into the larger community and engage in community service with an organization catering to Hispanics.

 
The only Hispanic community service opportunity of which I had any awareness at all was Homework Club. Here’s what I knew: Catlin Gabel students went somewhere and helped Hispanic kids with their homework, and staffer Mark Lawton plugged it in assembly a lot. With no more information than that, and slightly resentful of the fact that I could be preparing for my next history test instead, I hopped on a bus after school one Thursday bound for this mysterious and elusive Homework Club.
 
What I found was wonderful.
 
Homework Club, which is run by Bienestar, a Hispanic farm worker housing service, meets twice a week after school. Five to 10 Catlin Gabel students go to the community center at Reedville Apartments, where we meet up with 20 to 30 kids ranging from 1st through 6th grade. First we help them with their homework, which may consist of writing short stories, completing work sheets, or studying vocabulary. After their homework is done, the students practice reading to us. After a heartily nostalgic dose of Dr. Seuss or Maurice Sendak, it’s play time. Catlin Gabel tutors and their students mix while completing puzzles, playing hide and seek, or coloring with crayons.
 
I work with the 3rd graders. Note that I say work, not worked—for all of my moaning and groaning that first afternoon about the hassle of spending three hours helping kids with their homework instead of completing my own, I somehow found the time to come back . . . every week. It’s worth it to watch the kids improve, knowing that you’re the one who taught them how. Take Brenda, whose shy smile hides a spunky and charismatic attitude. When I first met her, her reading skills were excellent—but sometimes she would suddenly halt, staring at a word with blank eyes, before struggling through it and resuming her regular flawless read. I soon learned that Brenda, to whom English is a second language, had never seen or heard a lot of these words before. Now we sit with a dictionary next to us when we read, with the frequency of pauses always decreasing.
 
It’s not just Brenda’s vocabulary that has grown during the months I’ve been working with her. After a few months she hugged me goodbye for the first time, melting my heart like butter, before skipping off like it was no big deal. The next week she showed me a story she had written for school, featuring a character she’d named Leah. Her eyes sparkled as she laughed at my stunned expression. I’m not the only one fortunate enough to have blossoming relationships with these kids: take junior Lily Ellenberg, another Homework Club regular, who finds herself greeted by a cheering cluster of 1st graders every time she arrives.
 
Over the past months at Homework Club I’ve come to realize that the relationships we have with these kids isn’t just serving them alone. While my 3rd graders have been learning how to multiply, I’ve been learning how to teach—and realizing how much I love it. I can safely say that I have Homework Club to blame for my projected career choice, and I deeply thank Lauren for pushing me to get involved—because at Homework Club, teaching can be a learning experience too.
Leah Weitz ’10 chose to intern at Bienestar for her senior project. She will attend the University of Puget Sound this fall.   

 

Teachers & Students: The Heart of the Community--Aline Garcia-Rubio '93

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Upper School science

"Sometimes all it takes is just reaching out"

From the Spring 2010 Caller
I respect students and listen to them. I listen to whatever they want to talk about: their dogs, their assignment. Spending time and looking each other in the eye shows that I care about them. And I really do care. I really get to know them in those after-class moments.
 
Sometimes it’s very natural and things just click with a student, and there’s an easy interaction. It’s harder when there’s friction. If there is, I make sure that I go and sit with those students. When students are active in the lab, I’ll stand next to them and interact with them as humans, beyond the content of the class. It doesn’t take much, and the students appreciate it.
 
I tell students little stories about who I am. They get a sense of me as a human being with a family, so I’m not a distant figure. I make myself vulnerable in appropriate ways. In my advanced class, in genetics and environment, we were talking about skin color. I showed them photos of my two children—one is blond, and the other is Mexicanlooking. We can talk about my kids in terms of biology, and it helps them explore who I am. Once we had some crickets escape, and we all chased them together. I wasn’t the all-knowing leader, but someone who could share in the humor of the situation.
 
I’m very deliberate. My students’ success depends on it. If we don’t have a connection, they won’t do well. If there’s not a connection, I ask my colleagues about the student. I continually watch my students’ affect. If I see changes, I tell them, I see you’re motivated, or tired, or angry, or sad, and ask what’s going on. In science their lives don’t come out as much as they might in other kinds of classes. But I do watch them, even if they don’t know I’m watching them in that way.
 
I try to be a part of whatever’s meaningful to students. I go on the senior trip, which is our last chance to cement those relationships. During Campus Day, or on trips or Winterim, we make the best connections. Together we have enriching experiences that invite conversation. Outside of class we let our guards down in different ways.
 
I feel proud to have a class that has six minority students in it. I take ownership of that. I tell them it’s cool. We create emotional connections and become part of each others’ lives. I think those are the common, invisible threads that strengthen the sense of community and identity. Teachers work deliberately to create those invisible threads. Sometimes all it takes is just reaching out to someone.
 
When he was first at Catlin Gabel my son felt anxious about walking to the curb alone. But he soon felt safe in the knowledge that people are watching out for him. His 1st grade class did a poetry unit, and he wrote a poem, “I Am From.” He wrote, “I am from Mexico, I am from Hawaii, I am from Portland, I am from I love you, I am from Catlin Gabel.”
Aline Garcia-Rubio ’93 spent her junior year at Catlin Gabel as an exchange student from Mexico City. She holds a medical degree from the Facultad Mexicana de Medicina, Universidad La Salle. She has been at Catlin Gabel for three years and previously taught at an international school in Mexico City and at Punahou School in Hawaii, under former Catlin Gabel head Jim Scott.

 

Paul Monheimer reflects on Israel Fulbright research

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Last year I applied for a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching.  Much to my amazement, I was awarded a grant to study for a little over three months in Israel. On the application, I wrote a proposal for connecting students using graphic arts software to help overcome language barriers. How naïve I was. The first issue my mentor, Jay Hurvitz, pointed out was that I had hardly proposed a topic which could be researched. No problem, I countered. Being a mentor teacher in the United States, I was more than willing to look at how student teachers were being trained to teach with modern technological tools. In my mentoring, I had discovered that student teachers were proficient at using technology, but had little training in how to teach with technology.  I told Jay I was also interested in how veteran teachers were acquiring the new skills necessary to teach with emerging technology. 

I was not a researcher prior to this Fulbright Award. I teach children. I have done so successfully by most measures for nearly thirty years. Teaching is about building relationships. My students learn because of the relationship I have with them.  In order to learn about the state of technology in Israeli education, I began developing a personal learning network (PLN.) I created a blog that, according to Google Analytics, has received more than 700 visits.  Each visit lasted an average of 2:36. Clearly, people are reading what I have written. 

Actually doing research was my problem.  I was going to be in Israel for 102 days.  I spent a week getting acclimated.  95 days left.  Israeli universities have a semester break in February. Down to 80 days left.  K-12 students have a spring (Passover) break. That left 70 days for me to complete my research.  I learned a great deal while in Israel. Yet I am just now beginning to understand how little I know, and I will be teaching Catlin Gabel seventh graders in 14 days. As a wise Israeli fifth grade teacher reminds her students, “When you travel, you learn a lot about other cultures.  But, you learn more about yourself.”  What did I learn about the Israeli education system?  What did I learn about myself?

I was eager to begin my research into the Israeli school system, but I don’t read, speak, or write Hebrew very well. I needed to talk to people who spoke English, read articles in English, etc. But Hebrew is an important part of Israeli culture. It is one of the ties that bind people. Speak Hebrew and one is seen as an Israeli or at least trying to be part of the culture. Speak English and people might be tolerant or even translate, but I was still an outsider. Fortunately, I met many people who talked to me in English, newspapers such as Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post have online English editions, and both Google and Microsoft have passable translators. Technology became my lifeline. It kept me afloat, yet did not quite allow me to swim. I could translate Hebrew into English, verify my understanding with Israeli colleagues, and e-mail people on my laptop. I had a cell phone for person-to-person conversations and interviews. I learned that Israeli educators deal with many of the same issues facing American educators. Finding similarities eased my language anxiety a bit and allowed me to focus more on some of the differences.

Education in Israel is a complex enterprise. I divided my study between higher education folks and K-12 schools. Beyond this basic divide, there also are secular schools, religious schools, ultra-religious schools, and Arab schools. Funding and political power are unequal. While much funding is federal, schools are administered by municipalities, which means wealthier neighborhoods have schools with more resources, parental involvement, etc. There are areas where the school is the only building in a village with electricity. I visited one Bedouin school, near Be’er Sheva, where a generator the size of a camping trailer was providing the school with electricity. Residents, by contrast, relied on solar power, if they had electricity at all.
Israeli schools are faced with a wide spectrum of issues. Often, technology isn't a high priority. I wanted to talk about technology and how teachers were being trained in its use and using it with kids. But I kept reading about violence in schools, poorly paid teachers, high teacher turnover, lack of qualified teachers, curricular differences between religious, ultra-religious, and secular schools, and schools refusing to teach certain students.  Perhaps most importantly, education in Israel has to deal with security measures unlike any I have ever experienced as a teacher in America.  Every school in Israel is not only fenced, it has an armed guard at the gate. The guard won’t actually admit anybody, but will allow visitors to contact the office. Even when I visited schools as part of a team of Israeli educators, we still had to be admitted by someone who worked at the school, not the guard. Schoolchildren on field trips are accompanied by at least two armed guards the entire time. While no one mentioned the effect of security on kids and most Israelis take security precautions in stride, it has to affect the kids and the adults.   Learning about Israeli schools is, as the ogre, Shrek, says, “Like an onion.  Peel it back one layer at a time.”

A good mentor tries to develop independence in his charge, and Jay was an excellent mentor. He accomplished four major tasks with me. Jay helped me become independent as a traveler. Israel has a terrific bus system, but it took a number of trips before I felt comfortable. I am now able to travel to any part of Israel to meet educators, visit schools and colleges, and return to Jerusalem safely. Jay introduced me to a few educators who are doing unbelievable work in the field of education technology.  Sometimes he attended these meetings, other times I met with people on my own. I joined Israeli educator forums, which required more Google/Bing translation work, and I have been a contributor to these forums since my arrival. One of my suggestions is currently being tried out on Edureshet, a Ning group of technology-using educators. Jay also introduced me to a group of college instructors who were learning how to use technology in their courses. My skills as a technology director and technology-using teacher came in handy, as I was able to participate in class even though my Hebrew was not up to the level it needed to be to participate fully. More than once, after I made a comment, someone would remark, “Oh, so you understand Hebrew.” I didn’t and still don’t, but I understand what is on a screen and have been a presenter often enough to correctly guess what was going on. Lastly, under Jay’s guidance, I attended conferences at Mofet, a unique Israeli institution. Meeting colleagues of all stripes at these conferences was a highlight of my time in Israel, and I look forward to keeping in touch with many of the fine educators I met. While I know Jay did his best to broaden the circle of people with whom I met, and even though he knows, in one way or another, many educators active in the education technology field, my exposure to these people was inevitably influenced by his circle of friends and acquaintances.

More than anything else, I treasured the time I had to read, think, and write. I have followed a few blogs for a number of years, but my blogroll has now grown substantially. Speaking with Israeli colleagues and observing teachers in their classrooms piqued my interest in areas of technology to which I had not previously paid much attention, including ways to incorporate Facebook, Diigo, and other social networking sites, Google forms, and submitting assignments via Moodle. School visits caused me to reflect on my own teaching methods and curriculum. Reading what others wrote on the subject and commenting on posts connected me to educators not just in Israel, but the entire world. I’m not sure where I will find the time to continue all of the reading, but I suspect I will find ways to keep up, or I will join the legions of tech folks who have way too much to read. Thinking about my own teaching, how I approach learning, how I incorporate programs such as All Kinds of Minds, how I utilize the rich resources available to today’s students and teachers, and which skills I want kids to have when they leave my class are all areas I have been lucky enough to explore during my Israel Fulbright.  I have shared some of these thoughts in my 33 blog posts. 

Now that I am preparing to return to the US, what have I learned about the topics I wanted to explore?  There are some Israeli schools engaged in global sharing projects. Perhaps Catlin Gabel will join the growing list of schools participating in global sharing when I return. Some of the software I wanted to share does not “accept” Hebrew input. I have an ongoing correspondence with three software companies encouraging them to tweak their programs to accept Hebrew characters. According to the Israelis, it should be no problem. 

There is an ongoing program in Israel, the Athena Fund, whose stated goal is to address the current poor state of the education system, wherein a gap of digital understanding exists between teachers and students, teachers showing fear of computers and not using them for the purpose of teaching and communicating, and their general status in the eyes of their students is at its lowest. The Fund's main project is "a laptop for every teacher."

The Athena Fund aims to complete its work by 2012. From my limited observations, most Israeli schools have a long way to go. Israeli student teachers are not part of the Athena Fund program. This is unfortunate because, if they were, they might be ready to teach with technology when they began their own teaching careers. Instead, they become part of the program only after completion of their training. If I could make one recommendation it would be to give every teaching candidate a laptop at the beginning of their training. Teacher training is stuttering. Early adopting teachers are moving ahead, but many teachers are simply hoping, “this, too, shall pass." What few in the education community are talking about is that Israeli kids already bring cell phones to school and the phones are creating the same problems as cell phones in schools do in the US – distraction of peers through inappropriate use, ringing during school time, class distinctions between students who have “cool” phones and those who do not, etc. There are so many “turf battles” being waged in the education sector that it is difficult for all the folks involved to move in the same direction. 

Cutting-edge teaching is always inspiring! I visited schools where creative teachers were involved in innovative programs. I observed students in middle schools where each family had purchased a laptop for their child to use, conduct research, create tables in a word processor and upload the document to Moodle, all in a 45-minute period. I met teachers whose students were creating audio files to go with their stories, which they then used as part of an English lesson.  I brainstormed with teachers who were setting up a program to get parents more involved in their local school by having parents and children learn together about using computers. I learned more about the importance of social networking in education than I can possibly recount. This is, of course, a two-edged sword. Students enjoy social networking because they use the tools all the time, they are familiar with them, and they don’t seem like “real work.” But teachers need to help students understand the responsibilities involved in using social networking sites in classes. This includes focusing on school projects, not just updating status, checking on friends, etc. The issues surrounding “proper use” of social networking are not limited to Israeli or American schools/students.  Increasingly, corporations are either filtering or intensively monitoring what employees are doing/viewing/ while connected to the corporate network. 

Teaching is about making connections. I have done that during the past three months in Israel. Current technology will allow me to stay in touch with the educators and students I have met here. As a Fulbright Distinguished Teacher, I have learned new ways of looking at my teaching, improved my teaching, and I have been fortunate enough to have begun working with others to collectively improve education in both the United States and Israel. As Brian Jones stated after he and his partner had just completed the first around-the-world balloon flight, “I am an ordinary person to whom something extraordinary has happened.”

 

Viola Vaughn from Sénégal to speak at Catlin Gabel on April 7

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Vaughn, a CNN "Hero," is founder & director of 10,000 Girls, dedicated to the education of girls

Viola Vaughn, founder and executive director of the nonprofit 10,000 Girls (http://10000girls.org) in Kaolack, Sénégal, West Africa, will speak at Catlin Gabel on Wednesday, April 7, at 12:45 p.m. in the Middle School Commons during her tour of the United States.

Dr. Viola Vaughn

Vaughn is an American with an Ed.D. from Columbia University who received a CNN “Hero” award in 2008. She is a social entrepreneur who has built 10,000 Girls from an idea to a vibrant program currently serving 2,567 girls in 10 towns and villages in rural Sénégal. She periodically tours the U.S., speaking and participating in conferences to raise awareness of her organization's success in helping West African girls succeed as students and entrepreneurs. During her time in Portland Vaughn will also speak at Portland State University.

Video of Viola Vaughn #1          

Video of Viola Vaughn #2            

Video of Viola Vaughn #3

Viola Vaughn and the 10,000 Girls Project from Memory Box Productions on Vimeo.

10,000 Girls has two primary programs: after-school education and skill-building, helping girls stay in school and complete their educations; and entrepreneurship, teaching a craft or trade and business basics to older girls who have already left school and need life skills to become self-reliant. The educational component provides tutoring and resources to help girls succeed in school. Older girls, who are no longer in school, learn sewing, baking, and other marketable skills, creating products such as dolls and table linens, which they sell locally and online. The girls also grow, harvest, and produce hibiscus, which they transform into tea and hope to export to the U.S. as Certified Organic. The girls in the entrepreneurial program have decided to donate nearly 50% of their earnings to the program, making 10,000 Girls entirely self-sustainable. In Sénégal – where 54% of the citizens live below poverty and 48% are unemployed  – 10,000 Girls transforms the lives of  participating girls and their families.

The dynamic Viola Vaughn, a long-time resident of Sénégal, dramatically describes the challenges and joys of running 10,000 Girls and speaks with passion about her organization's mission. She can relay fascinating stories, including how she convinced banks to open accounts for young girls, a first in Sénégal; why the girls chose to bake and sell cookies to raise money (like America's Girl Scouts); and the what poignant questions the girls pose at summer Democracy Camps in  Sénégal. 
 
In Portland, Violla Vaughn hopes to connect with individuals and organizations interested in the education of girls, as well as with businesses that might want to sell 10,000 Girls' products. She will also encourage individuals intending to volunteer for 10,000 Girls in Senegal.

 

Catlin Gabel Middle Schoolers featured in Martinique press

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Sainte Marie Journal, France-Antilles, March 2010

Translation of the article in France-Antilles
 
Sainte-Marie. Young Americans hosted by Saldès middle schoolers
HAND IN HAND, TO PROTECT THE COAST
 
Photo captions:
Photo 1: Young middle schoolers did not hold back their efforts in spite of the overwhelming heat.
Photo 2: At the end, the Saldès middle schoolers and their American counterparts displayed their satisfaction.
 
Young middle schoolers from the Emmanuel Saldès Middle School and young American middle schoolers took part in a beach clean-up at Anse Charpentier and at the beach of Sainte-Marie last week. Glass bottles, plastics, used tires, an old fridge … the concerted efforts of these youngsters of very different backgrounds allowed them to pick up several bags of garbage.
 
The young Americans, from Portland, Oregon, came to Martinique through a cultural and linguistic exchange program. Various families of Sainte-Marie have been hosting them since last week. 
 
Next year, the young Samaritans (inhabitants of Sainte-Marie) will in turn be hosted by their friends from Catlin Gabel School. In preparation for this big trip, the students registered in the European section of Saldès, have been making various fund-raising efforts since last September. They organized a raffle, sold cakes, and have already spent several Saturdays bagging groceries in the town’s supermarket.
 
Facilitating the turtle’s arrival on the beaches
The clean-up on the commune’s beaches was part of a series of efforts to further sustainability. The ONF (National Forest Bureau), Sainte-Marie’s city hall, and Kawan, a turtle protection association, joined forces with the middle schoolers whose objective was to make it easier for the Leatherback turtles to get on the beach during this egg-laying period. 
 
In small groups, under a scorching sun, the adolescents screened the area to take away as much as possible the garbage soiling these beaches. At the end, they displayed their satisfaction, happy to have filled several garbage-bags full, together.
 
PHOTO CAPTIONS: 
They said:
 
Picture 3
Josué and Sarah, 8th graders from the Middle School Emmanuel Saldès           
"We’re proud to host our American correspondents. Everything’s going well. We’ve been learning English since 5th grade. Today, with the arrival of our American friends, we’re trying to make an extra effort to live this exchange at its best and share as much as possible."
 
Picture 4
Students from the Catlin Gabel Middle School, 12 to 14 years old
"We’re happy to have been able to join our Martiniquan correspondents. Since we’ve been here, we’ve spent time with a lot of young people. This trip has allowed us to discover your culture, and some music through dance. It’s an unforgettable stay and we’ll remember it for a long time to come. We’ll remember when night time falls with the song of crickets and frogs, and especially the roosters crowing the wake up call in the morning! It’s very different from what we’re used to. We look forward to host our correspondents next year.
 
Picture 5
Gwenn Le Reste, project coordinator and English teacher at Emmanuel Saldès
"In the last few years, the team of teachers has organized several projects of the sort. Unfortunately, these teachers are extremely challenged by the possibility of having three classes cancelled in our building. Several of our students come from underprivileged families. Our building has the RAR rating (Ambition-Success Network), which has allowed us to have, up until now, a reasonable number of students in our classes. But if, for strictly financial reasons, the rectory persists and cancels these 3 classes, we won’t be able to pursue these sorts of projects that are very motivating for students."
 
Picture 6
Monique Bessette and Mark Pritchard, French and music teachers at Catlin Gabel School in Portland
"Since the beginning of this project, the Americans were eager to come to Martinique. In spite of the heat, they didn't feel out of place. On the contrary, they took to the exchange right away. Both groups are living pretty intense moments. Our students became familiar with the school's schedule, life in the countryside, and cultural traditions. We're sharing the life of the families who are hosting us, and it's very enriching."

 

Interests, Passions, Magnificent Obsessions: Photographer & scientist, senior

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From the Winter 2010 Caller

Passions: science, photography
Interests: diversity, dance, writing, languages

“Since elementary school I’ve dreamed of becoming a pediatrician and working in other countries. I’ve volunteered at a cancer rehabilitation center in India, and I’ve worked with kids as a volunteer. I love kids, and I love science.
 
Two years ago I started experimenting with the camera and Photoshop, and I started doing a lot of portraiture. I posted my work online, and I began getting outside referrals. I’ve done one wedding, and I do portfolios for models and family portraits. I like to shoot in the city or in nature with no fake lighting and no backdrops.
 
I love portraiture. It’s satisfying to take pictures of people and see them in different ways. It’s great to make them feel beautiful and capture their emotional qualities and their uniqueness.
 
I plan to go to medical school. It’s hard to find colleges with strong programs in both medicine and art. I want to be a doctor, but I also love travel and would like to document it in photographs.
 
I’m co-leader of Speed-Ujima, the diversity club. It’s really important to me because I’m part of a minority group in the Upper School. It’s important to let people know that being different is okay and that they shouldn’t hide it. We get the word out that we won’t tolerate racism.

Rahee means traveler in Urdu and Hindi. It’s a piece of fate, from the time I was little, and it’s come true.”

Self-portrait: Rahee Nerurkar

Interests, Passions, Magnificent Obsessions: Dedicated to community service, 10th grade

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From the Winter 2010 Caller

Passion: community service
Interests: basketball, health care

“I’m really into community service. My mom believes that you should give as much as you can to others who don’t have as much as you do. She’s instilled that into me. Lots of people have more than me, but I have something I can give back to others.
 
I do a lot of different projects, often with my church. As part of the Extreme Makeover Schools program in north and northeast Portland, I helped build a community garden at an elementary school. I volunteer at the library for summer reading. I help kids get signed up, give them prizes, and read to them. I like working with kids. I also volunteer at the Food Bank.
 
Last year I went with a group of African American and Jewish students to New Orleans to rebuild. We went down and did hard physical work in the Ninth Ward, the poorest section of New Orleans. There are almost no houses, and there’s debris everywhere, compared to the wealthier areas, which are almost completely redone. It was hard to see.
 
My godsister and I have done a lot of service work together, and it’s fun to work with someone else. You don’t think about how long it’s taking you.

I’d like to be a physician’s assistant. You don’t have to go to medical school, and there are a lot of programs. I want to work in an inner-city hospital and clinic where there’s less access to health care and fewer doctors."

Interests, Passions, Magnificent Obsessions: Soccer player & scientist, 5th grade

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From the Winter 2010 Caller

Passions: soccer, science

“Soccer’s great because you can socialize and make new friends. It relieves stress and helps you to not burn out and get tired in the rest of your life. I started playing classic soccer late this summer. It’s a more competitive form of soccer that’s played mostly year round, and all outdoors in all seasons. We do two practices a week after school. We have a game on Saturday, and sometimes on Sunday. I really, really love it.
 
Two friends and I were playing recreational soccer and we switched to classic soccer. It’s more physical and more demanding. The coaches train us hard on all the skills, like shooting, passing, and defense.
 
I also love science. When I grow up, I want to be a brain surgeon and fix things when people have problems. I’m interested in the brain because it uses up the most energy in the body, and it controls everything.
 
At home my mom is teaching me Japanese, and it’s hard. I’ve also been taking Chinese for four years. Learning Japanese makes Chinese easier because the characters came from Chinese, and the sounds are similar. We visit Japan most summers, and it’s fun. I speak Japanese with my relatives, and I’m pretty comfortable with it. By being with relatives I get to see the whole culture.

Having something you like is good for you. It makes life easier and more enjoyable.”

Interests, Passions, Magnificent Obsessions: Great reader, 4th grade

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From the Winter 2010 Caller

Passions: reading, writing
Interests: science, art, collecting, music, my cats

“Reading is my favorite thing. I love to curl up on the couch with a book. I read fiction mostly, mysteries, and Indian mythology, which I read as books and in graphic novels. In the graphic novels I know the story already, but I can see it unfold before my eyes.
 
I started wanting to write my own poems after the poetry units in 2nd and 3rd grade. All the reading I’ve done has given me a vocabulary that makes it easier to write. I also like writing folktales. One I wrote, ‘The Quest for Light and Water,’ told how light and fresh water were first brought to earth.
 
I’ve been taking piano lessons for two years. I made up a song with my cousin in India, and we recorded ourselves playing a tiny keyboard and maracas. I love Indian classical music and can figure it out on the piano.
 
In 4th grade we do imaginative writing each week. Sometimes it takes me a while to think of an idea, but when I get it, the story just unfolds. I like that we are made to write in class. It’s an opportunity for our interests and talents to develop.
 

I like everything at Catlin Gabel. I like the Fir Grove, my teachers, and my friends.”

 

CG and Nepali students meet to talk about fast food

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Sattya Media Arts Collective presents Catlin Gabel youth media exchange

Invitation for young people in Kathmandu to meet with visitors from Catlin Gabel School in Portland, Oregon, USA

If you have anything to say about the arrival of corporate food culture in our city, take part in a discussion with youth from the country where it all began—United States.  Exchange points of view and discuss the recent coming of KFC and Pizza Hut to Kathmandu with youth from Catlin Gabel, a high school in Portland, Oregon.

Portland is well known for being a progressive, environmentally conscious city where all things local, organic, and fairly traded thrive.  While fast food outlets exist there, a growing number of people actively support locally owned restaurants and farmers, as well as the globally renowned Slow Food Movement.
The Slow Food Movement was founded in 1989 to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world.”

Is fast food something American young people support? What role does fast food play in their lives? What kind of food choices do their families make? What kind of image do fast food companies portray through advertising? Is fast food especially popular among their friends? Is it popular with any particular segments of American society? Would they like to work at a fast food chain?

On March 6, prior to the discussion, we will screen the movie, Food, Inc., which examines how today’s “food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment.”

Since the recent establishment of KFC and Pizza Hut (both owned by Yum! Brands, “The World’s Largest Restaurant Company”), people in Kathmandu have quickly embraced them open arms, not addressing any of the major concerns voiced by people who have been eating fast food for decades. So let’s ask some questions.

Do Nepali consumers really know what they are getting? Why have people been lining up to eat at KFC and Pizza Hut? Is fast food cool?  Is it a status symbol? What does it mean to Nepal’s culture now that it is here? For our environment? For our health? For our local farmers? Who is making the profits? Why should we care? What can we do?

Join us on Saturday, March 20, 9 a.m.–noon, at Today’s Youth Asia venue at Babermahal Revisited for a fun, informative conversation with youth from the United States. If you are 15-18 years old and interested in taking part, email us as soon as possible at collective@sattya.org.

We will screen the movie on Saturday, March 6, at Crehpa (time to be decided). Nepali participants are required to attend the screening prior to the program on March 20.
 

Questions posed to Nepalese student applicants:

Do you know where your foods come from?

What is your diet like? What do you wish it was like?

What do you think about KFC and Pizza Huts’ presence here?

What is your perception of America and from where have you gathered this perception?

Which TV channels do you prefer to watch and why?

Making Global Trips a Community Experience

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Global trips have served as an extremely powerful experience for the lucky children and adults who get to go but have had limited value for the rest of the community. The students who traveled have an amazing memory that is difficult to explain to their peers. Their assembly presentations often feel disconnected, out of context in the daily life of the school. The students who stayed home have little understanding of what happened during the trip. Beginning and Lower school students are only vaguely aware of the experiences of their older peers. What if our entire school community could participate in each trip that goes out, even though they were not traveling themselves?

In recent years, Catlin Gabel’s global trips have become increasingly “academic,” with students seeking to better understand specific topics through travel. Students have studied history, culture, language, comparative religion, and natural history while abroad. The trips slated for 2010-11 make this trend more explicit and specific, exploring topics such as …

These topics provide experiential subject matter that directly relate to the current subject matter in many of our classes. What if we integrated the current year’s global trips into our courses? All students would participate in a shared, compelling learning experience. They would learn how the typical school content and skills relate to real-world issues in international locations. They would have first-hand contact with peers who travel to these destinations and either virtual first-hand or second-hand contact with individuals in those countries.

The traveling students would serve as school ambassadors for a collective learning effort, carry their questions to the destination country, and report back to the community what they discovered, either live or after the trip. They would experience their trip in the context of a schoolwide effort rather than in isolation.

We hereby invite you to integrate instruction on next year’s trips into your lessons, enriching your courses and our whole community through these travel experiences.
 

Students raise more than $12,000 for Haiti relief

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Lower School readathon the latest success

On Friday, February 5, 200 Catlin Gabel Lower School students plus staff, faculty, and parents participated in a readathon for Haiti relief. They all read books in the Lower School library, and up and down the halls, from 2:15 to 3 p.m., unified in a student-led community effort to show we are trying to make a difference. Students collected pledges for reading a certain number of minutes or a certain number of pages, and the resulting pledges were added to the funds that Catlin Gabel students and community members have already raised for Haiti relief. As of February 8, more than $11,000 had been donated to Mercy Corps from student-led efforts all over the school, and that figure will continue to grow.

Victoria Trump de Sabático en Peru y España

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Hola a todos!

Espero que les hayan disfrutado las fiestas de la navidad y el año nuevo. Les estoy mandando este correo con un poquitito de información sobre mi año sabático.  Estaré parte del panel de ex-alumnos sobre la vida después de CG, hablando un poco sobre mis experiencias en Perú y los beneficios de un año sabático. Viví en Urubamba (en la provincia de Cusco) por 3 meses con una familia que sólo habla español. Para mi trabajo, hice cocinas con chimeneas y filtros para agua sana (los dos de cerámica) para comunidades pequeñas y pobres cerca de Urubamba, hablando con la gente para enseñarles sobre las cocinas y los filtros sólo en español (y con un poquito de Quecha, el idioma nativo de Perú).

Para el próximo parte de mi año sabático voy a viajar a Barcelona para vivir con Guillem y estudiar (sólo un poco cada semana...sí pues, es un año sabático, ¡no un año más de la escuela!). Estudiaré "Cine Español" y "Arte Moderno y Contemporáneo" a la Universidad de Barcelona, Estudios Hispánicos, y Francés al Instituto Francés de Barcelona.  Mis dos cursos con la UB serán totalmente en español (¡y con ensayos también!) así que vamos a ver como hago...jajajaja.

¡Muchísimos abrazos!
Victoria

Jenny Faber on SYA ~ Spain

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Jenny Faber writes from Spain during her year abroad, November 30, 2009

"The Endless Search"

    Back home finding the perfect parking spot poses a serious challenge for my dad, circling the rows of cars like a vulture and stalking pedestrians loaded down with shopping bags following them back to their car. But my dad’s quest for the parking doesn’t even compare with the lengths Juan, my host father, went to during las fiestas de Pilar. Even during frenzied Christmas shopping or a Costco run before the Superbowl, the most hectic parking times in Oregon, it normally doesn’t take more than half an hour to find a place to park. But after an hour of winding through the streets of Zaragoza, Juan didn’t show any signs of weakness, even when we passed the parking garage, with the bright green illuminated LIBRE sign.
    La Ofrenda de las Flores, the most religious aspect of Pilar, started early Monday morning, and Pili and Jorge, my host mom and little brother were up with the sun to join the procession. Juan isn’t a native Aragonese and wouldn’t walk in la Ofrenda.  Instead he and I planned to get to Calle Alfonso in time to see Pili and Jorge walk by in their native costumes on their way to Pilar.  Normally it takes me about fifteen minutes to get to Pilar on the 29 bus, so it should have taken less time by car. It was such a weird feeling being back in a car, in the month I’d been in Spain, I’ve ridden in a car twice, instead taking “tu amigo el 29” as Juan calls it.  I hadn’t expected such an adventure in the car, normally all my exciting transportation moments occur in the bus.
    We started out at 11:15, Juan asking me, “¿Te molestas si fumo?” Sí me molesto mucho but I couldn’t just tell him that. It was a rhetorical question anyway. We drove by my bus stop, just as a 29 was pulling up, the people packed on like sardines, headed to Pilar. I scoffed at their misery, crammed into the bus, the Spanish abuelas staring down anyone without gray hair, trying to get their seat. We’d get to Calle Alfonso much more comfortably than them, and quicker too. We crossed the river and made a quick loop around Pilar, just to be thorough but it was evident we couldn’t get a parking spot that close. That was just wishful thinking. The streets were difficult to navigate, with cars lining both sides, and everyone hurrying in the direction of the Ofrenda. It was like a step back in time, with the women walking around in floor length dresses, with petticoats and shawls and the men wearing stockings and vests. The drive through town was surreal, it would have been much more apropos to ride in a horse drawn carriage.
    By 11:40 we’d driven into a part of Zaragoza I’d never been to and Juan became a tour guide. That fit well with the picture I’d formed of Juan in my mind, when he emailed me in June, saying he’d be my “solucionador de cuestiones”, my solver of questions. In all the ideas I’d dreamed up of my year in Spain, I never thought of anything resembling our parking odyssey.   KISS FM played on the radio, occasional American songs popped up and other times Spanish music courses through the car. Juan told me little tidbits about each song, even the American ones. As we passed certain buildings Juan explained what their used for and occasionally their style of architecture. Sometimes, I could understand him perfectly and was on top of the world, considering myself basically fluent. Other times, I couldn’t understand anything and realized how much I have to learn.
By the time we passed La Romadera, the soccer stadium, we were farther from Pilar than our house was. The casual manner in which we drove around made it seem like it wasn’t vital to find a parking spot and more important to enjoy the drive together. There was no swearing, nor rude gestures at the others searching for parking, instead camaraderie, drivers signaling if a parking lot was full.     At that point, I’d been in Spain a little more than a month; I no longer felt like a stranger around my host family. I was beginning to feel like I lived in Spain, rather than just a tourist. But that still didn’t mean being alone with my Spanish dad didn’t terrify me. Try as I might, I just couldn’t communicate with him as well as I wanted to. He’d ask me a simple question, and I’d repetitively respond with a puzzled “¿Qué?” Or when I got sick of asking him to repeat it with simpler words, I’d just jump in and respond, more often than not answering him about something he hadn’t even asked me. I could handle a short car ride, but the clock kept going and I desperately longed to fill the awkward silence.
 Juan was on cigarette two when we drove back by Pilar to start circling again. The fumes were bothersome, but smoking is an ever present culturally accepted pastime in Spain. The infamous Zaragoza wind, El Cierzo, picked up right as we drove past a construction site, and it was a mad race to see if Juan could roll up the windows of the car before the dust cyclone hit us. The windows rolled up just in time, and a new topic of conversation started, one of Juan’s favorites, about how I would freeze this year. It didn’t help that I wore a dress and tights, perfectly accentuating his point that I never dress warmly enough. But Juan’s nagging doesn’t bother me; it’s his way of protecting me, making sure I don’t become an American Popsicle. “Abrígate” has become Juan’s trademark phrase, replacing hello and good-bye. It’s not uncommon that I’m sent to put on more layers before I’m allowed leave the house.
    At noon we’d been searching for more than 45 minutes, breaking all records from back home. A lesser man would have given into the temptation of the parking garage, only a moment’s walk from where we planned to meet Pili and Jorge. But Juan resisted the lure of the green glowing LIBRE sign, beaconing like a holy grail, and we drove off to scour elsewhere for a parking spot. The farther out we went the easier it was to see people’s desperation for parking. Cars parked on the sidewalk blocked all pedestrians and cars parked in the street blocked all drivers. Once we crossed back over the river and closer to home than Pilar, it would have been quicker to take the bus. After more than an hour of searching we pulled into a parking lot close to home that was overflowing with cars and buses. There were no rows to drive down to look for space, because cars were crammed into every space possible. It was utter madness, and the poor cars parked in the back were stuck until Pilar festivities finished, and the cars would give up their coveted spaces. Juan works in renewable resources, with los molinos, but he doesn’t drive a compact hybrid car. There was no way his SUV was going to be squeezed in anywhere. Though it worked perfectly we hopped the curb to park in a free spot of sidewalk.  It didn’t matter to Juan that we parked closer to home than to Pilar, and still had to walk halfway there. We triumphed, and against all odds, found a parking space. Juan had evidently planned for our extensive search, because we made it to Pilar exactly the time Pili and Jorge walked by, dressed to the nines in their native costumes.

 

 

Paul Monheimer, 7th grade Cultures teacher, on Fulbright in Israel

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On December 25, teacher Paul Monheimer, his 8th grade daughter, Noa, and his wife, Pam, flew to Tel Aviv on a Fulbright research grant. Among many cross-cultural pursuits, Paul is researching the use of technology to connect students internationally.  Also, he is looking at how teachers are introduced and trained in the use of technology to aid learning. 

PAUL'S ISRAEL BLOG

NOA'S ISRAEL BLOG

Fulbright Japan Visit to Catlin Gabel

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Teachers come to learn about our sustainability program

On November 3 Catlin Gabel welcomed a group of about 45 Japanese and American K-12 teachers, university professors, and dignitaries to our campus. They were interested in learning about our efforts toward becoming more sustainable. They had been meeting in Portland for several days and were interested in curriculum in various schools that focuses on sustainability. The tour began with a delicious, organic, locally grown lunch created by our own Hen Truong. At the stop at the Beginning School, Sue Henry described the thinking, learning, planning, and model-building that went into designing Little Eagle Creek, which harvests rain water from our roof. Kindergartners sang our guests a welcome song and another about the water cycle. Jordan Heintz, 5th grade teacher, presented a video about the class’s sustainability curriculum, and the Upper school environmental class did an impressive job of talking about what they are learning. Last, our guests visited the Middle School garden project, which grows food for our kitchen. Eric Shawn, our facilities director, who has been instrumental in the school’s progress toward a greener future, organized the successful half-day tour for our guests. Congratulations, Eric!

 

Catlin Gabel / OES Guatemala Collaboration

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Dearest all,

A note to let you know that we returned safe and sound from Chajul, Guatemala.  This will give you a taste of the purposes of our research trip.

Our arrival was a bit late, and through a miscommunication, Nicolás had waited for us at the Catholic church in the plaza of Chajul until 9:30pm.  Thinking we weren't arriving, he saddled his burro and began his decent to “Tierra Caliente” at 4:30am, walking the 4 hours over the 6,000ft. pass, back to his humble home in Pal.  Nicolás just lost his third son after being kicked in the head by a horse.  They live far from definitive medical care so he didn't survive the 20 hour journey on a makeshift stretcher.  We felt awful arriving just 3 days after his death and for the miscommunication that lead to the purposeless 8 hour round trip for Nicolás.  Despite it all, he and his family received us with open arms and welcomed us to sleep around Miguelitos' shrine.  We brought a framed picture to add. 

 

 

 

 


Translating from Ixil to Spanish to English, Dr.  Andrew Zechnich and I saw around 14 patients in the tiny clinic in Pal alongside the very capable Pedro Alberto, community health facilitator, and saw much of what we expected; pulmonary issues, infections, stomach and head aches.  One 9-year old boy showed all the telltale signs of an appendicitis and was urged to make the 10-hour trip to the hospital in Nebaj.  We left all the medical supplies that we could carry down and were deeply impressed with how effective they are with such little resources.

 

 

 

 

 

 


We returned to Chajul on Sunday evening, waking early Monday to begin investigating the stove projects that reduce the wood needed and the smoke produced in the one-room homes of Chajul.
 
Christina Meyerhoff on behalf of OES and a collaboration that we are exploring, in hopes of bringing students from both schools here in the future, organized a friendship bracelet project between CG and CEMIK students.  Not surprisingly, the students here have a knack for weaving and were ecstatic about sending their creations to our kids. 

 

 

 

 

 


Generous medical supply companies donated as many sutures, gowns and lidocaine as we could stuff in our bags, and we presented these to the medical team at the Centro de Salud in Chajul.  They especially appreciated the donated, non-invasive Pulse Oximeter worth $2000. 
This experience has been profoundly transformative.  Notions of wealth and connections to place are completely transformed while walking with contemporary decedents of Mayan Ixiles, visiting ceremonial sites and sharing meals. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sincerely,
Spencer, Andy, Christina and Joan