"Connect with Nature, Connect with the World"
Summer Environmental Workshop 2002

Far off in the distance, the mountains are covered in a damp mist. (Shiozawa, Niigata)
World School Network's Educator Summer Environmental Workshop was held from August 2nd to 5th in Shiozawa, Niigata Prefecture, Japan. Participants (5 from America and over 30 from all over Japan) energetically discussed how to communicate the relationships between people and nature as well as how to develop projects with global perspective that connect children worldwide.

  1. Indigenous Peoples of Alaska: their lives and education (Mike Hull)
  2. Adventure Learning in America (Pam Solvie)
  3. Earth Day and Education (Katherine Walker)
  4. Jr. & Sr. High School Project: "World School Alaska" (Heather Quick, Matt Tavani)
  5. Workshop: Making Commercials (KATO Toshihiro)
  6. Workshop: Community Building Class (OHNISHI Makoto)
  7. Group Discussion (self introductions & theme seeking)
  8. Group Discussion (Four themes: Water, Food, Community, Collaborating with organizations beyond "school")

  9. Exploration for Wisdom Project, Exploration America

Matt full of expression in his presentation.
During the first half of the workshop activities centered on presentations by teachers from Japan and the United States. The second half of the workshop was dominated by group discussions based on various themes.
On day one of the workshop, Research Manager Mr. FURUSE Koji from the Center for Environmental Studies, one of the pioneers of environmental education in Japan, demonstrated several outdoor environmental experiences. Amidst the drizzling rain and vivid green of surrounding rice paddies, participants learned many different ways to introduce nature to children.

Mike Hull, principal of a small village school in Alaska, offered participants a broad perspective on not only America, but a special place, Alaska, and the remote village he resides in. Children in the village are adjusting to modern life, but Mr. Hull says he is teaching students traditional methods of hunting beavers and moose. Participants watched his presentation while eating smoked salmon and thought about the relationships between humans and nature.@

Pam Solvie expressed the importance of experiential and community oriented learning amidst America's increasingly test oriented curriculum, while Katherine Walker spoke of the importance of environmental education at the kindergarten level.

Pam prepares an all-American dish, Sloppy Joes
Heather Quick and Matt Tavani from Wyalusing Jr./Sr. High School, both new to World School Network, shared their students' activities, which focused on water quality and tied into adventure in Alaska.

In addition to finding concrete themes such as water, food and community during discussions, participants engaged in heated debate and even discussed creating ways that corporations and citizens can be involved in education.

As part of the 3 day and 4 night workshop, participants made local dishes representing their local areas. Having several dishes from various locations in the United States and "chirashi-zushi" (a kind of sushi), participants directly experienced one anotherfs food cultures which led them to see how deeply rooted our foods in culture and the environment.

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