Crane School Blog: Focus on Learning

Featuring articles written by Crane Staffulty

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TheresaGoreyExperientialJourney
Theresa Gorey

n 2004, Elizabeth Del Negro and I took ten teens to Oaxaca for a service-based cross-cultural adventure. Now adults with families of their own, one became a documentary filmmaker, another a banker focused on micro-loans for indigenous communities in Mexico and Central America, and one a lawyer who specializes in immigration rights. They launched meaningful lives, making choices in their professions that mirrored the inner selves they built in part by our experiential education journey...

In 2004, Elizabeth Del Negro and I took ten teens to Oaxaca for a service-based cross-cultural adventure. Now adults with families of their own, one became a documentary filmmaker, another a banker focused on micro-loans for indigenous communities in Mexico and Central America, and one a lawyer who specializes in immigration rights. They launched meaningful lives, making choices in their professions that mirrored the inner selves they built in part by our experiential education journey.

No textbook can communicate hunger like the experience of holding a hungry child in your arms. Our students held hungry children in their arms. They fed, read to, played with, and learned from a center filled with beautiful Triqui and Loxicha children. Throughout the experience, our students knew they’d deal with physical and emotional discomfort, including facing their own unconscious biases and the entitlement some had from skin color and socio-economic position. It was beautiful to observe them embracing these growing pains, and growing from them.

They questioned. They became more vibrantly curious about the world. They worked together supportively. They learned to see how much they did not yet know. We watched them shift and bloom, humbled and moved by the sheer beauty, artistry, perseverance, and humanity of the children and families we connected with in Oaxaca.  

In their free time, they gratefully explored the stunning depth and diversity of mainstream Mexican culture: its history, music, art, literature, dance, food, and people. Two keys for this kind of journey: you need some free time just to wander and discover. You also need reflection time. From both, powerful learning is born.

There is so much that can only be learned outside a classroom, in the greater landscapes of life. Experiential, service-based learning opportunities offer us the most meaningful segment of education one can receive. We forget facts we learn from a book or information we hear in classrooms. We recognize something unforgettable about others and ourselves, however, when we explore and deeply interact with the world itself.

Theresa Gorey
Lower School Learning Specialist

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