While I really enjoyed giving the keynote address, I will admit the workshop I led about my travels really sparked the girl’s interest in traveling. About fifty girls were in attendance for the leadership academy. I worked with three different groups of teen girls age 14-17, two of the sessions were packed, some girls even sat on the ground but they didn’t mind. I started my presentation using Google tour builder, a website shared with me by Tema, one of the 2015 GTF fellows like myself. She’s quite proficient in technology and resources to use to teach about geography. I am glad to have her as a resource.
I took them on a tour “around the world” of all the places I’ve been: China, Germany, France, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Nevis, Bahamas, Hawaii to name a few. The tour ended with my expedition to England, Ireland, Scotland, countries that I’d never thought about exploring until this opportunity arose. I shared with them to always stay open-minded and be willing to learn. This trip alone exceeded my expectations and introduced me to places and sites I would have never known about. And the beautiful aspect is that it all connects to my teaching.
I then focused on the selection process, the experience of working with Linblad and National Geographic experts, sites visited, and life aboard the ship. I was surprised, many of the girls had in fact heard of National Geographic. They were actually arguing over the magazines, ”aww mannn…I wanted that one,” I’d over hear one say. These moments made my heart smile. For it was in during those times of scanning the images of National Geographic when I was a teen that my love affair with exploring the world began.
The ladies were awe struck by my pictures and travels especially since they knew that I was one of them. I shared with Ms. Willis, founder of the academy, and several of the other organizers that I would like to sponsor a photography contest for the girls. I was very impressed with not only the leadership of this academy, but how much thought was put into making sure these young women are exposed. To my surprise and delight, the Linnie B. Willis leadership academy purchased each girl an IPAD. Wow. I couldn’t help by think of ways to put this tool/technology to use as I want them explore their own communities in a way in which encourages creativity and to a degree, critical thinking. What better way to analyze your own surroundings than through the art of photography.
Actually one of my favorite moments was later in the evening when one of the girls saw me taking photo. She told me she really liked my pictures from earlier. She asked me if she could be the photographer for the night using my camera and she was surprised when I said yes. I even offered her a few pointers. She walked away smiling.
We will see how this project develops, but in the meantime it was an honor to share this experience and be a part of these girl's journey.