OUR 10-MONTH TRAVEL EXPERIENCE 'DOWN UNDER'...
Amy and I have four decades of combined experiences working with kids. Our experiences have given us tremendous awareness of the education and Foster Care systems in the USA. Consequently, it has always been very easy for us to find flaws in the U.S.A. education system and Foster Care System and difficult for us to find successful holistic practices that are working.
We wanted to have more experience with successful alternative education and programs that serve children well. To accomplish this, we knew it would be invaluable for us to research different areas of the world that practiced successful methods for vulnerable youth. Our priority was to learn from a safe country that provided a variety of alternative education, which valued holistic health and also supported self-sufficiency.
In 2014, we took a year off and we personally funded a trip down under to Australia and New Zealand. Through HelpX and Workaway, we were able to exchange room and board for various local work experiences. It enabled us to live with the locals, meet many wonderful people, volunteer in schools, learn about their country’s politics, foster-care system, self-sufficient communities, and gain rich authentic cultural experiences in the educations system in both Australia and New Zealand.
Here is a list of the inspirational schools and communities that we had the privilege of learning from:
SATHYA SAI PRIMARY SCHOOL IN MURWILLUMBAH, AUSTRALIA-
A private school based on the universal Human Values of Truth, Love, Peace, Right Conduct, and Non-Violence. It honors the uniqueness of all children’s inner potential, promotes character development, healthy relationships and connection with family, community, and culture.
THE TOOGOOLAWA SCHOOL IN TOOGOOLAWA, AUSTRALIA –
A school for at risk boys. The five universal Human Values of Truth, Love, Peace, Right Conduct and Non-Violence are central to its design.
ANANDA MARGA RIVER SCHOOL IN MALENY, AUSTRALIA –
Ananda Marga philosophy is part of a global Neohumanist Education movement which teaches love and respect for all humanity as well as all living and non-living beings. Through meditation and yoga children learn to experience peace and connectedness. The school models sustainability by reducing, reusing and recycling in all areas of school life.
CAPE BYRON RUDOLF STEINER SCHOOL IN BYRON BAY, AUSTRALIA –
An independent school designed to provide nurturing, creative and academic education inspired by the indications of Rudolf Steiner.
WELLPARK COLLEGE OF NATURAL THERAPIES IN AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND –
The largest natural therapies educator in New Zealand. Provides NZQA approved natural therapy courses for natural health professions.
SATHYA SAI RONGOMAI PRESCHOOL IN OTARA, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND –
A privately owned and operated free education and care service for children and their families. It operates under the principles and universal Human Values of Truth, Love, Peace, Right Conduct and Non-Violence.
AMBURY PARK CENTRE IN MANGERE BRIDGE, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND –
Equine therapy with impact. Horses help to improve the lives of children, adolescents and adults with physical, emotional, psychological and intellectual disabilities. Amy worked as a teacher’s assistance at this school for 5 months and I (Michelle) volunteered once a week. We both fell in love with the concept of integrating horse therapy with high risk and special needs children. We were so inspired by the MANY success stories of the children who attended this school.
MONTESSORI SCHOOLS IN NEW ZEALAND –
The Montessori Method of Education is a child-centered approach that values the human spirit and development of the whole child physically, socially, emotionally and cognitively.