SANTA IN SPEEDOS?!
June 21st was the first day of summer! Most teachers and students have wrapped up school and are preparing for a couple of months of much-deserved rest and relaxation. For those in the southeastern U.S. (that would be Atlanta for me!) that means outdoor barbecues, crab bakes, and jambalaya. People are headed to beaches, taking family trips, and visiting national parks. It’s a standard picture of summertime fun. However…… this picture would not necessarily resonate with my friend Paula from Santiago, Chile. Why? For one very simple reason… In Chile, June 21st is the beginning of winter! So while I’m fighting Georgia humidity and killer mosquitoes, Paula is buying winter clothes and oiling her skis (it often snows in the mountains). In Johannesburg, Ayanda heads to the ice skating rink and my friend Juni is busy packing two suitcases because he’ll leave Jersey in the summer and arrive in Sao Paulo in the winter. All in the span of an overnight flight from the U.S. to Brasil (where Santa wears speedos because the average temperature there on Christmas Day is generally 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit!). And the point is? That our actions and behaviors change drastically when we alter our perspectives. Most of us intellectually realize that the seasons change when we cross the Equator. But how often do we really think about what that means for those who live on the opposite side of the line? Many of us don’t. I would like to suggest that it’s time for us to flip the script. Let’s position ourselves a little differently and be open to another perspective.
A SLOWLY TILTING PLANET
Horace Mann reportedly stated: A human being is not attaining full heights until he [she] is educated. I believe that. I also believe that education does not just happen in a formal school setting. At TEACH, we support lifelong learning for students AND adults. None of that happens, though, if we are unwilling to shift our perspectives. Even a tiny bit. Learning to see and hear another person’s story does not require us to abandon who we are. I argue that it expands who we are. Knowing that it is currently winter in Melbourne doesn’t make me an Aussie. It DOES help me appreciate the different experiences Australians are having right now. And that knowledge makes MY world larger. This is what we strive to do in our educational work. Broaden the lens. When we realize that the picture of the world looks very different from another position, it opens more possibilities of what our lives can be. It moves the needle toward a more equitable reality. It tilts the planet a little more toward kindness. So go ahead! Be brave. Find one way to shift your lens just a bit this week and see what AMAZING new perspectives you find. If nothing else, the Santa in speedos will make for some interesting conversations!