UWC Mahindra College monthly newsletter

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Parent Profile

Jeff & Nannette - parents of Max Class of 2012

This is the first time Jeff & Nannette have visited India and is the first big international trip they have made together. 

Jeff worked in outdoor education for 25 years before moving on to be a curriculum director five year’s ago and Nannette’s background is in energy and body work. Firstly a reiki practitioner and massage therapist she is now following shamanic studies at the Four Winds Society www.thefourwinds.com/ She completed the main programme designed for practitioners who work with clients which first addresses personal healing work and then moves on to deal with professional client work. When asked about the integrity of reiki in the market place today Nannette commented that she feels reiki allows people to remember who they are, understand their own power and what we are capable of when human beings work together.

Nannette spoke about how much they were looking forward to visit Max in his new “home”. “We felt a huge relief that the college was situated in such a clean area far away from the pollution in Mumbai that we were really not expecting nor did we feel able to deal with”, Nannette smiles. “It’s like a sanctuary here”. On arrival they felt so welcomed by Max’s friends in the wada where he lives; “everyone came and introduced themselves and started conversations easily which was stellar! Faculty also made us feel so welcome so our family feels very integrated in the college just like back home.” Jeff noticed the difference here between the maintenance and kitchen staff and their role in the community as compared to the school in the US where he works and also the absence of students in these areas which gives a very different feeling.

“Now we have experienced India,” Nannette adds, “we really want to understand more… We need to go home and read up on this very powerful country that we were not really expecting. I just love the people but don’t feel yet like I really know how to respond to them.” Their biggest joy is seeing how capable Max has become. “He left a boy and has grown into a man, capable of navigating so well that he has somehow surpassed us” Nannette says quietly with a tear in her eye. “I feel our place as parents has shifted; he was the boss when we arrived and it was just so great to see him manage everything for us as we moved around and to experience his life here in this environment!”

Nannette’s website for those interested in energy work is www.sacredmesahealing.com

Jeff conducted a talk on building Canadian style boats that conveniently tied in with the current initiative called the Paddle Association, set up by outdoor educator Andrew Hepworth, to explore building canoes with local materials.

Jeff works at Eagle Rock School, which was also a school inspired by the work of Kurt Hahn. It is an experiential school that delivers a strong service component curriculum and professional development training centre that work hand in hand with disenfranchised students often from difficult family backgrounds. The school offers a 25 day wilderness trip orientation programme which all students must complete specially designed to help new students engage with each other and work efficiently within a community. Outdoor education is integrated into the curriculum at many levels; classes are also typically integrated to provide a larger concept and rarely just centred around the core subject.

The professional development centre provides an opportunity for outside teachers to come to experience life in the school as well as providing PD leaders and staff working with other schools around the country to coordinate networking in this field. The school also helps to fund its own recent graduates through a Graduate Higher Education Fund which provides a fixed amount of money to help them with higher studies.

After a short description of his work environment and the ethos of the school he went on to show a presentation which gave a step by step narrative of how to build the Canadian style Cedar Strip Canoe. At Eagle Rock boats that are built by the students are then sold back to the local community to enable the school to recover the relatively high cost of the building materials. This particular class involves maths concepts, cultural geography and a woodworking component.

Andrew, our current outdoor educator, has been keenly discussing building techniques with Jeff and will try to use some of these here on campus. Kurt Hahn said every student should make something with his hands and the first UWC college, Atlantic College, integrated boat building as the first skills-based class chosen to put this ethos into place. Meanwhile, here in UWC Mahindra College, all eyes are now on the Paddle Association to see what they will come up with. Good luck everyone!

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