Justine Kendall: Thanks For Being Here…

Justine Kendall is a contractor at for National Geographic
Education and has enjoyed every minute of getting ready for the best Geography
Awareness Week ever!

Yesterday we went to see a short discussion from H2O for
Life and an exhibit called ‘Bathroom Pass’, a visit that turned out to be
thought provoking in more ways than one. 
H2O for Life is an organization that helps pair schools in the United
States with one in the “developing world” that does not have the resources to
meet their health and hygiene needs (i.e. clean water to drink, hand washing
stations, or working toilets). These schools then work to fundraise and educate others about the
importance of clean water and hygiene. 
There were several speakers at the meeting, and although they each only
spoke for about five minutes or less, their passion for their field reminded me
just how important this week we’re about to finish out really is.  In the frenzy leading up to it many of
us might have gotten caught up in the details – how many maps have been shipped
out, whether there was a typo in the press release, does that crossword even
HAVE the right number of boxes to fill out the answers??  But in the end we all need to realize
that Geography Awareness Week, regardless of whether or not UPS actually
shipped the boxes to the right address, or even the right state, is about
educating people of all ages and areas about the importance of learning about
the world around us. 

Often times, it seems that many people like to think that
they are unconnected from their land. 
In this digital age, when someone in Paris can instantly video chat with
a person in Kabul, and even when prestigious thinkers proclaim that technology
has made it so “the world is flat”; we think ourselves so far above our Earth,
that we are no longer “tied down” by place or location.  This however, is simply not true. Just
as we ever have been, both groups and individuals are influenced by place.  The way humans behave, the way we
interact with our surroundings, all depends on our built and natural
environment. As educational philosopher John Dewey said, “the ultimate
significance of lake, river, mountain, and plain is not physical or social; it
is the part which it plays in modifying and directing human relationships.” The
loyalties to the various places that provide the context for our lives are
crucial aspects of the human experience, and too often we ignore them, or are
not taught to look deeper into the interactions between ourselves and our
places that take place every day.

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