Wendy says that MY HERO has also given her great opportunities to meet and interact with the global educational community. She looks forward to working with the teachers and schools she knows, as well as discovering new ones like the teacher of a class from France who contacted her after the terrorist attacks last November to ask if they could join MY HERO to connect with what is good in the world. They did and their teacher told Wendy how it not only lifted their spirits but also lifted those of their parents and the community outside of Paris.
Wendy's earlier MY HERO story in her own words:
My family and I were lucky enough to represent MY HERO at the ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL iEARN
CONFERENCES in Slovakia '04 and Holland '06. 1,000 students, teachers and adults from all around the globe get together every year to share ideas and projects about how to improve the world and our places in it. While we were conducting MY HERO workshops on journalism, filmmaking and the Learning Circles, Slater attended the Youth Summit and each time was thrust into a group of 150 kids from all over the globe. As a parent, I watched Slater explode with optimism. I saw her mind reel in the amazing possibilities that open up when a group of like-minded kids puts their heart and soul into creating something.
In Kosice, Slovakia we made new friends from countries like Egypt, Taiwan, Spain, Australia and Russia who introduced us to THEIR projects. We met Joanne Tawfilis, and got to know her Art Miles Mural Project, which plans to wrap the pyramids of Egypt with 12 MILES of murals to mark the end of the United Nations Decade of Peace. We learned about YouthCan, a youth-run organization that uses technology to inspire, connect and educate people worldwide about environmental issues.
In the Netherlands, Slater shared a cabin with students from Iran, Egypt, USA, Wales, Australia, Mongolia, England and the Netherlands. There were countless different religions and cultural beliefs, along with many discussions…heated and fun… about how they could create the world they want to live in. And through it all, one unifying idea flew from cabin to cabin to the disco to the debate circle to the closing ceremony: "We are the new generation…we have great ideas and we have each other to work together around the world to create positive change."
A newly-minted iEARN proponent, I became MY HERO's facilitator for iEARN's LEARNING CIRCLES…an online smorgasbord of interactive, experiential learning shared between classes from all around the world. Outside of North America, the classes in our groups have ranged from Belarus to Nepal, Mexico to Nigeria, Taiwan to Germany. We began by exchanging class surveys and welcome packages. What fun! The chocolate and maps from Slovenia, pistachios and prayers from Iran, music from Mexico and bumper stickers from Texas all added to our knowledge of each other. By the time we started exchanging ideas about who inspires us, we felt much more like friends sharing ideas around a campfire.
The Learning Circle provides an amazing geography lesson and cultural exchange to any classroom. For the small, informal homeschooling group Slater was in, it was a slam dunk. The results of our first homeschooling Learning Circle project looked like this: ECREATE page for the SCHOOLERS.
Working with the head of the iEARN Learning Circle, Barry Kramer, has been a joy and I applaud his ever-expanding vision for experiential project-based learning. Facilitating the MY HERO Learning Circle has given me a new insight into teachers and why the ones that go the extra distance are so valuable to any society. All the teachers I have worked with have gone beyond curriculum and what is expected of them to share a global journey with their students. Here are just a few of the wonderful teachers that have shared this journey in cyberspace (click on the teacher class page following their quotes to see their students' journalism, art and short films for The MY HERO Project):
Debbie Senger from Canada: "The MY HERO Project spoke to me as a teacher and I felt my class would learn about what it means to be a hero. This has been an uplifting experience for us all and I am very proud of the results."
Debbie's Class Page
Guillermo Ojeda Lajud from Mexico: "I've been teaching English for several years now, and throughout those years I've seen the sign of wonder that any individual's face expresses when some kind of educational experience "connects" with their personal growing needs. Working with (Wendy Jewell and Barry Kramer) has made this expression a common one."
Guillermo's Class Page
Lillian Liu from Taiwan: "It really gave them a sense of accomplishment when they saw their works published on [the] myhero.com website. I can still recall how they presented their works with pride. Through these works, they not only share with the world their heroes, but also leave something which they can reminisce about as they look back on their high school days."
Lillian's Class Page
Dadhiram Khanal, Principal from Kathmandu, Nepal: "Hari Om and Namaste. Participation in this project has broadened students' horizon[s] and knowledge. They have come to realize how important the computer is in today’s world for learning. Our school is in a rural area, where students had not even seen [a] computer, let alone use it. To participate in [a] project in computer and Internet has been [the] greatest achievement for students and our school."
Dadhiram's Class Page
My first written piece for MY HERO was to profile Ilse Bing , who at the time was 98 and had even more trouble understanding the Internet than I did. Even so, she loved seeing her story on the screen. And I deeply enjoyed telling it.
I've been writing stories for The MY HERO Project ever since- some pretty cool, innovative, caring, smart and fun people that are changing the world. Some you may have heard of, but most you probably have not:
My family and the MY HERO team have also shared some wonderful filmmaking opportunities:
Like the time we covered the Green Carpet at the NRDC (Natural Resources and Defense Council) fundraiser in Los Angeles. As a junior MY HERO Reporter, Slater spoke with many celebrity activists like Leonardo DiCaprio, .Larry and Laurie David, and Jack Black, who were in attendance to hear Robert Kennedy, Jr. speak about saving the human ecosystem.
Our travels also took us to Catalina Island, off the coast of Southern California, where Slater finally got a chance to meet her hero, Jean-Michel Cousteau, and get a firsthand look at his Ambassadors of the Environment Family Camp. Here, families learn about the ocean and how to live sustainably on the planet.