East Coast Eduventuring

5 Apr

Hello from the East Coast! Wow, so much to update on (as always). The Eduventure 2012 Indiegogo campaign ended on April 1st, and including both online and offline donations I reached about half of my target, with a total of $3,486! I want to thank everyone who generously supported the campaign, whether their donation be $10 or $500.

After I spent this last year speaking with dozens of people as I traveled around the US as well as abroad, this trip is expanding upon the realizations I have had for what is further needed. Using a video camera, I will be able to have filmed interviews to share with you all, although I may not be able to upload videos until I return.

My group and I at CGI U!

So, what have I been up to? There’s a lot to catch up on this past month, but I will re-cap a bit on what I’ve spent the first week doing. I started out in Washington DC in order to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University conference. The plenary sessions were particularly inspiring, and included speakers such as Bill and Chelsea Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Usher, Jon Stewart, Twitter founder Biz Stone, and Vandana Shiva. Students from dozens of colleges attended, each having pledged to fulfill a Commitment to Action, whether it be starting a community garden or organizing a certain amount of money for AIDS prevention.

Many of these students are looking for ways to align their own values with what they do in their future careers. In many cases, this means working within the social or public sector. However, now with the student loan crisis, it feels increasingly risky to find a job in sectors of social impact where you most likely will be making less of an income than those in the corporate world. Students, panelists, and speakers offered various opinions and possible solutions in relation to this topic. Vandana Shiva, a personal hero of mine, was able to connect this issue to the larger problem of reclaiming “the commons.” People should have access to knowledge and skill development, as well as be validated for their learning, without having to go into unreasonable amounts of debt that will weigh heavily upon them for decades after graduating. She also said something that really resonated with the audience: “universities are squeezing students into a narrow definition of a person meant for the corporate world. We need multiversities.” Bill Clinton also responded to a question posed by a student regarding career choices and student debt by talking about one idea being floated in government in which the amount of required payment on student loans would be determined by your income. As Bill said, “your loan should become a function of your job, not your job having to become a function of your loan.” 

I’ve also continued to have various friends, acquaintances, friends of friends, and even strangers reach out to me in order to tell me their own story or to ask me for advice, especially in the past few months. Many are in the college system and, like myself, have been questioning whether or not it is what they should really be participating and investing in at this point in their lives. I had a conversation with Alan Webb of Citizens Circles the other day in DC (his filmed interview will be posted soon!) in which we discussed our belief that there is a critical life stage in human development that is completely being skipped over and neglected by the dominant and more socially-acceptable path of life that is: elementary-middle-high school-college-career-retirement. I believe that there needs to be “Periods of Reflection” between various stages to allow people to become further informed about who they are as a person and how that fits into the larger context of the world we live in today. Many of the programs I am visiting and methodologies I am learning about include elements of this “transformative learning” that fosters periods such as “Rights of Passage” that young people need as they enter into adulthood.

I’m now in New York and have already with lots of cool people and have visited programs such as General Assembly and Echoing Green. As this post is kick-starting the East Coast Eduventure, I will be regularly posting thoughts, impressions, interviews. 

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