Most of us really want to make a change, to live with more meaning, therefore we tend to quit routines and boring jobs, socially acceptable roles and limitations. Then we choose to explore different continents, volunteer in rural areas or refugee camps, become a positive light to inspire others to do the same. If it wouldn’t be for non-commercialized websites and blogs, magazines and books, we would not encounter these adventure stories.
During the enlightenment period, children started to be seen more than means of labor and schools, nearby factories where their parents worked, started, kindergartens spread and a demand for children toys and literature arose. History of childhood is a very interesting topic and is widely discussed nowadays as youth tend to gain more freedom and their voices are being heard in more places. Despite this positive change, sometimes people think that education is just about sitting in the classroom, listening to teachers and going on school trips. And even though this idea is highly disputed for quite some decades now and such figures like Friedrich Fröbel, Rudolf Steiner, Maria Montessori, Paulo Freire really contributed to the alternative education movement. Even when we graduate from schools, we bump to the same-looking doors, only this time seeking a diploma and a pathway for adulthood, challenges, wisdom and deeper knowledge.
There is one particular university providing teacher’s training in Denmark, which breaks all the existing rules about how learning should look like. Students travel, hitch-hike, volunteer in NGO’s, emerge in local, rural, poor settings, do investigations and researches picking such topics like climate change or illiteracy, organize actions and make actual contributions to the struggling society which experience a huge shift in following moral values and remaining sane. It is easy to be judgmental and come up with all sorts of reasons why one education model is better than the other. Nowadays then all sorts of non-profit organizations are on their peak and you can go volunteering abroad so easily, sometimes it’s really important not to get lost in all these lists. Also, the main reason for choosing traveling, volunteering, particular course should never be based on just a tick in the bucket list or because it is trendy and it would look nice on your resume. A person should really ask himself what he wants to gain from these experiences and what is his purpose, how could these new skills be applied to the daily life and introduced to the wider classes of the society.
As one of the student’s Farid, shares: “We flew from Germany to Johannesburg. We applied for our visas in Pretoria and made our way into Mozambique, to a partner school of ours called the One World University. We rented one of their buses and prepared it to suit our needs. We would be driving for about three months in the region. We had to fix some issues with the gear and the air system. Inside the bus we removed the seats at the back to make room for beds. Later on we bought a gas cooker and fuel to have a kitchen. We were a group of 14 students plus two teachers. We were going to travel to learn.” They visited South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique and experienced something much more valuable than touristic catalogue could describe: “I have been lucky to go into a copper mine in Zambia, 1000 meters underground. In the period between Christmas and New Year, the whole team worked on renovating a classroom. In Tanzania besides investigating Muslim culture my group visited a rice plantation, in Botswana our research topic was food security and we paid a visit to the Ministry of Agriculture and local farmers as well. To conclude those investigations, we all went to a secret holy tree and listened to mythological stories. In February two of my colleges and I were interviewed on Radio Mozambique. A hundred or more experiences happened, not mentioning the ones with the different people we met and connected with. At the end we, as a team, covered topics such as education, health, religion, farming, climate change, culture, politics…” The journey included a lot of hitch-hiking and staying with the locals as they had money to cover food but not transportation or accommodation. Such circumstances might seem strange or too risky but true traveling is not about being comfortable at all. Traveling for free just with a sense of trust and volunteering not expecting anything in return is not just eye opening experiences for an individual as such but also keeps the positive attitude about humanity going on. In these times then people tend to focus on news which are rather depressing or then there is so much hate, homophobia, racism, wars and conflicts happening it is important to make a stand and be the change you want to see in the world as M. Gandhi expressed himself once.”
Nowadays there is a highly noticeable distinction between people who follow capitalism structures like consumerism, high use of resources, individuality, alienation, greediness and those who are concerned about what they eat, if their clothes come from sweatshops in India or if their doctor is not prescribing pills just because a pharmacy corporation filled his pockets with money. People are becoming aware and start taking actions. People are starting to doubt and question instead of simply obeying to the existing models. Traveling to small villages, stepping out of Westernized land is hugely rewarding. As Farid concludes about his African experience: “Learning this way leaves a real impact on you, it changes you. What you learn is not dry facts printed on a piece of paper anymore, what you learn has a name, a smell, an emotion associated with it, a memory… This journey was made possible because we were travelling as a team and by being together we could reach much more even though it meant compromising a lot. Also, the people we met gave us a lot. They were hosting us, sharing meals, their knowledge and just letting us to connect with them. Being in this ever-changing environment, continuously moving for four months, facing so much newness and challenges was not just important. It left us a responsibility, to give back all that we had been given.”