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What was the strangest food you ate while traveling?

not sure what it was, but it was good

  • From Georgia, United States
  • Currently in Auroville, India

Auroville Spring 2009

Describe experiences as a faculty in training with the Living Routes program in Auroville, India. What is it like here?

Ethan First and Final Entry of the Semester

India Auroville, India  |  May 08, 2009
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 I talk a bit about the last days of the semester and what had meaning for me. 

For me, the last few days of our semester were some of the best (although I have to say, in the last four months I can count the days I would define as “bad” on one hand!). It’s been an amazing learning and growing opportunity, I think for all of us. We spent the last days saying farewell to all of the people we met, finishing final academic work, packing, and also preparing (or trying at least) to part from each other as a tight-knit learning community. One evening I enjoyed a lot was the night of the giant farewell dinner with everyone who has anything to do with the Auroville Living Routes program invited. While a bit overwhelming in terms of the sheer number of people to talk to and appreciate, there was a great feeling of connection and joy that filled the space, especially when we all made a huge circle and gave shout outs of appreciation to lots of people.

Over the final days I was also able to present my last two seminars, one on green building and energy efficiency (which I wanted to offer to students as they return home to the US) and the other on alternative education. While I had a lot of fun in presenting both, they were about as different as seminars can be. For energy efficiency/green building I basically delivered a power point presentation, describing some different aspects of American housing that can be easily upgraded to lessen a home’s environmental footprint. This area of knowledge was my former profession for about five years, so I feel very comfortable lecturing on it. It also required more of a direct transfer of knowledge than guided group discussion, which is the format I usually prefer to use as an educator. I did encourage everyone to ask questions and be specific about what they wanted to know about their homes back in the states.

Alternative education was almost the opposite. I started the lecture in a rather unconventional way, basically just sitting there and not saying anything, in the style of Carl Rogers or Derrick Jensen, though I did develop a wry grin due to nervousness about this rather risky approach I was trying. The point was to give students control of the seminar from the start, letting them realize they had just as much to say about alternative education as me, and that I didn’t need to “teach” them about this topic, which strikes me as a bit paradoxical. They are a quick bunch though, and immediately caught on and started a great conversation by themselves, talking about our traditional educational system and its problems, versus the different models such as experiential, holistic, self-directed, and other pedagogies. Eventually I took a moment to interrupt the discussion to ask if they wanted me to go with any of my other ideas for the seminar, or let everyone just keep a good discussion going. They opted to finish that discussion and then we did a few other activites which ended with a larger discussion of the details of the different pedagogies. Feedback from them seemed to indicate it was a great success. Overall I had a great time leading both of the seminars, and am very grateful I’ve been given the opportunity to finish my Master’s in Environmental Education by leading the Living Routes program with the other faculty.

Along with the other preparations, it was just a great last few days of sharing appreciation for each other and our learning this semester. I’ve known it throughout the past four months, but our group really seemed to gel and become a fully supportive learning community. The last few days simply allowed us to give the space and openness to fully appreciate that. I honestly can’t really imagine things in the group going much better than they did at the end. It was quite shocking to realize that things were ending, and that everyone was about to go there own way. I nerdily commented that it was like the breaking of the Fellowship in Lord of the Rings, but it really did feel like the conclusion of something special. I am very excited to hear about and see what happens to all of the great people I’ve had the chance to learn with this past semester. I will miss Auroville, India, and this Living Routes program tremendously and hope to have the chance to return in the future.

In Peace and Transformation, Ethan

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  • Matt Lindsay Blog Entry

    May 08, 2009
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  • Ethan First and Final Entry of the Semester

    May 08, 2009
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