Olana_Thomson_Educator

Foundations for the Future Charter Academy North Middle School 211 McKnight BLVD NE Calgary, AB T2E 5S7 Phone: 253-9257 Fax: 253-1273

Oct 31, 2018

WE

339 Queen Street East

Toronto, ON

M5A 1S9

Dear WE Schools,

How does one accurately describe a life-changing event? How can the true impact of an experience, a place, be captured?

I am a Grade 8 Language Arts/Social Studies teacher in Calgary, Alberta. I have been in the classroom for over 10 years now, but nothing has impacted my personal and professional life like this summer. In July of this year, I travelled to Ecuador with Me to WE, on the Ecuador Educators’ trip. To say it was a life-changing experience is a vast understatement. Many of my colleagues here have remarked to me that I seem different; I feel the shift, the change in polarity. At a very surface level, my Ecuador experience has resulted in a reinvigoration of my teaching in Social Studies. I am determined to introduce a more global, issues-based approach to my students. Currently, my Grade 8 classes are doing projects on the refugee crisis in Central and South America. Later in the year, when we study the Spanish-Aztec conquest, we will also be looking at the 2008 Ecuador Constitution, and how the Rights of Nature reflect an indigenous American worldview that the Aztecs shared. I am also continuing to work with our campus Me to WE Club, and I have already shared my experience in the permaculture cacao farms with the students. We will be creating a large and far-reaching chocolate sale campaign in the spring of 2019. This will also involve me presenting to our wider school audience about the challenges and issues cacao farmers face in the Amazon region. As one of our jungle guides at Minga Lodge said, our first step to true, lasting change is to address our daily choices; step two is to find connections with communities. I have this written down and underlined in my journal – this is my new professional teaching philosophy.

Parent • Teacher • Student

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