Little news bits are often the best and our latest deals with our Director and co-founder, Julie, being an invited guest speaker at Meiji University in Tokyo this past month. The subject of her ‘conversation’ was her experiences that had contributed her vision and philosophy of Akahiao Nature Institute. Much of her focus was simply upon “listening and observing” current students and learner needs in the past 6 years of running experiential, value-based camps.
As she often says, “education is such a broad term…sometimes it is the students that define that concept better than ’teachers’”.
Julie’s own life path, connecting with mentors and experiences that have veered far outside of academia and education have continued to provide a gentle platform from which to reach out and engage with youth. A life changing experience with the Tracking Project and her great mentor and friend, John Stokes, provide daily inspiration (still) and set out a path of courage and gut feel on much that informs Julie’s vision of a future more connected with Nature and ourselves. It is the source too, of her strong belief that learners and youth ‘can’ design their own version of a more sustainable and integrated future vision, rather than simply adopting models that are formulaic.
Her time as a crew member aboard the Polynesian Voyaging Society's Hokulea is another pillar of inspiration and fuel. Wayfinding, using celestial navigation skills from the ancient Polynesian’s informs and inspires her vision, and under the guidance of many elders, including Nainoa Thompson, continues to found her philosophy of “Malama Honua” (’to care for our earth’).
Her talk (more of a conversation as Julie prefers) summed up with her long held idea that we have to (and can) find our way back to ‘living with nature’.
Julie finished up with a question to her group, “how can I best contribute to my future?”.