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Ashli and Zoe, video-chatting with over 100 fantastic Grade 3 students at Battalion Park Elementary in Calgary AB.

From the sunny living room overlooking Dallas Rd in Victoria BC, it was hard to fathom that Ashli and I were in fact talking to over 100 grade 3 students in Calgary, sharing experiences and reflections from our travels in Peru. Technology (in this case, a Skype videoconference) makes the world feel incredibly small and gigantic at the same time!

This was my first chance to observe what has become a regular event between our Director, Ashli Akins and the Grade 3 students of Battalion Park School: regular Skype check-ins with their fantastic Q and A sessions.

First, a bit of background: as noted HERE, these young students, led by their remarkable instructor Laurie Renton, have blazed a trail for our Global Stewardship Program, transforming our expectations of ‘what’s possible’. These passionate youths are reaching out to make a positive difference in the world by actively learning about and engaging with other cultures and perspectives.

We’ve been pretty excited about it.

But maybe in all our enthusiasm about the students’ learning process, we’ve overlooked how much we (in this case I’m generally referencing ‘adults’ if we’re willing to call ourselves that!) have to learn from kids.

Today this lesson really sunk in.

As we sat on the couch, tea in hand, the 100-plus Battalion Park students chatted with us as they sat in a packed classroom as Ashli and I answered their questions on a projector screen. Each and every one of their questions was inquisitive and creative, and some of them certainly made us pause to scratch our heads before giving our best attempt at an answer.

Students took turns coming to the front of the class to ask us their questions on the laptop.

Many were practical: “What kind of roads do they have in the Andes?” and “What are the houses made of?” We noticed that this generation of Global Grade 3s had a particular passion for animals, so we spent a lot of time talking about the fantastic creatures that live in the Peruvian Andes: condors, alpacas, llamas, and the Peruvian dog, to name a few.

Working with Mosqoy certainly isn’t all ‘business’; we do have a lot of fun while getting our many tasks accomplished. However, this was the first time that Ashli and I had taken the time to talk about the animals we’d seen in Peru.

There was one question we continued to reflect on after signing off from our conversation with the students. About halfway into our chat, one student had asked: “What do the kids in Peru play?” Both of us were a bit floored. We’d spent countless hours talking about the culture and traditions of Quechua communities, not to mention the regional political issues and economic processes. But neither of us had taken a moment to ponder how kids living in the Andes play. We know that, like kids everywhere, they love to play sports and to play with dolls and toys- but that wasn’t really the question. The Calgary kids wanted to know what it would be like to play with someone their age from the Peruvian Andes.

Drawing on my own experiences of being a kid, I realized that play was much more than just a way to pass time. Creating an imaginary world with another person and inhabiting it together was a profound act of connection, with my friends, and looking back on it, an important expression of our creative imaginations.

And so the question, “What do they play?” is an incredible example of reaching out- and of looking for a way to connect, having the trust and openheartedness to communicate with others and create something new together.

A good model to apply to a thoughtful practice of Global Stewardship, I think.

Our appreciation goes also to Laurie Renton, for her inspiring trust in the innate ability of the learning process to evolve and take shape organically: led by the students’ own curiosity and interest. It’s clear to us that the Battalion Park students feel empowered and validated as they’re encouraged to ask the unique questions that help them learn and understand on their own terms.

So, in the spirit of reflexivity: let’s take a page from the Battalion Park Global Grade 3’s: Can we bring back some of the building blocks of play, connection and imagination, into our learning processes as adults? Perhaps sometimes in the momentum of organizing and doing, we forget that relating is a basic, but vitally important aspect of our lives.

Thanks, Global Grade 3’s, for reminding us to learn like kids. Your guidance and inspiration is always appreciated!

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