“You Have to Want to Do It”

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Students at Mental Toughness Seminar

Mental Toughness

Mental Toughness Presenters Karen Smyers, James Olson, John Young, and Sean Riley

“You have to want to do it.”

That was the overall message that ten of our cycling tour students heard on Sunday, March 25th at Sun Multisport’s Annual Race Mania Summit and Expo in Boston, MA.

Bringing our students to this event was to get them in the mindset of an endurance athlete so that they can begin to view themselves as part of this extraordinary and inspiring community.

The other big thread among the seminars we attended was mental toughness.  Former Navy Seal James Olson shared how he developed mental toughness through Seal training, “we all have mental toughness, but have to constantly work on it…move through the pain, don’t accept it.”

My favorite quote from paratriathlete and marathoner John Young was, “pain is inevitable and suffering is a choice. You have to want to do it and you will figure out a way.” John Young was the first ever person with dwarfism to complete an Ironman triathlon in addition to being a three time finisher of the Boston Marathon.

Ironman Triathlon World Champion Karen Smyers shared that you have to “learn how to get your mind to work for you and that setbacks have silver linings.”  Her big setbacks included getting hit by an 18-wheeler while riding her bike and receiving a cancer diagnosis. She survived both and is still racing, coaching, and living life to the fullest.

“Show up every day to your life” was my other favorite quote of the day courtesy of Meredith Atwood, 4x Ironman triathlete, podcaster, and writer.  This makes total sense but we don’t do it for a variety of reasons which ultimately holds us back from achieving what we want to achieve.

We are looking forward to seeing how these important nuggets of wisdom from fellow endurance athletes will shape our thinking as we work towards our huge goal of cycling to Quebec City and back.

Heard in the car on the drive home, “I think I want to do a triathlon.”

 

 

Cycling Tour Update

Spring is almost here and our cycling tour students are excited about finalizing the tour route and getting out on the road. Of course two nor’ easters in the past two weeks isn’t helping any. Hopefully, the snow will melt soon.  We’ve spent the winter doing team building exercises and learning more about how global social, political, and economic systems are impacted by bicycles.  We even had a visit from Valley News reporter Jared Pendak who published an article back in January about our trip! Check it out here:  Valley News Article

We are more than halfway to our fundraising goal of $10,000 thanks to the generosity of the Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation, the White Mountain Wheel Women, and many friends and family. April will hopefully bring positive news of a NEA Foundation Grant.  Please check out our gofundme page if you wish to donate.  Rivendell’s Cycling Trip to Quebec City

Group Meeting

Winter Cycling Tour Meeting

2018 Brings a Focus on Bicycles

We survived the “bomb cyclone” snowstorm here in western New Hampshire and the temperature today is a balmy 3F (-13F with the wind chill) but I’ll ignore that. This is much warmer than Monday’s low of -29F.  What better thing to focus on in my Global Studies class than studying the importance of bicycles and planning a June cycling tour?

This term my high school Global Studies class is focused on the importance of bicycles in the global community. People ride bikes for sport, health, transportation, education, commerce, medical care, among myriad other reasons.  What sparked this focus in my colleague, Story Graves, wanting to organize a student cycling tour to Canada. I had an open block where I needed to teach a class this term so we offered a Global Studies class that culimates in a June cycling tour from Orford, NH to Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. Students actually signed up for the class and some have already committed to training and fundraising for the 600-mile round trip ride. Our goal for the tour is to challenge and inspire student learning, confidence, and global awareness.

While I have been riding bikes as a triathlete for past 10 years, I had not deeply considered how important bikes are for everyday life in many parts of the world. Living in a rural area means that I drive. EVERYWHERE.  My bike is used solely for workouts, racing, or social events.  I even drive my bike to places where I want to ride.  Teaching this class has opened the door to a new emphasis on cycling as life for millions of people worldwide.

Here is one story that changed my thinking. Enjoy and stay tuned for updates on our learning and global cycling adventure.

http://www.wbur.org/onlyagame/2017/12/22/world-bicycle-relief

Photo credit: http://www.wbur.org. Story by Karen Given

 

 

Pinterest

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As part of our Teachers for Global Classroom coursework, we had to create a Pinterest board.  According to Pinterest for DummiesPinterest is an online pinboard, a visual take on the social bookmarking site. Unlike other social bookmarking sites, such as Digg and StumbleUpon, content shared onPinterest is driven entirely by visuals. In fact, you can’t share something on Pinterest unless an image is involved.  In other words, it is an online cork board where you can pin and categorize images that interest you.

Pinterest is a great resource for images related to all aspects of Global Education and pins can take you to the source website of the image. Check out my board here: (while the images embedded only reflect pins for prom planning, there are actually global education boards there I promise!) You can also find other great resources for all aspects of teaching and learning.  Warning: Pinterest is addicting!

How to video:

 

Women’s Empowerment

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India is a dichotomy on many issues especially women’s issues. There is a big push for female empowerment which was evident in the school. The young women we interacted with were very academically successful, well spoken, and aware of a variety of global issues. We had the privilege of attending a Women’s Empowerment Panel Discussion where 4 students had been asked to give speeches on the topic and then lead a question and answer session.

Indian culture is a patriarchy. Many students not only live with their parents but also their paternal grandparents and dad/grandfather generally have the final say on issues although many girls are starting to speak up more in the home. This is not the norm though. The two big things that I noticed were:  most men that I saw in the 3 cities that we were in wear western style dress. In Bangalore and Kolkata, women wear saris or salwar kameez which is the more traditional dress. The few women wearing western business attire work for the multinational tech firms or were flight attendants in uniform.  In Delhi, some women wore skinny jeans, shirts, and heels and I even saw a few women wearing shorts. I wonder why women wear traditional dress and the men don’t. Because we flew from Bangalore to Kolkata and then from Kolkata to Delhi, we had to go through airport security for domestic flights. There are “women only” lines for going through security and I was not allowed to go through the men’s line in Kolkata and had to walk over to the women’s line to be body scanned with the hand scanner by a female TSA type officer. If the country is pushing for more equality and empowerment, why are there still separate lines? We also experienced this going into different cultural attractions and restaurants. Apparently there are also female only train cars for train travel. How is the concept of “separate but equal” going to bring true equality to both genders in India?

Here are 2 articles that take the issue more in-depth.

Gender Equity Issues in India

Women’s Rights Issues in India: Problems and Prospects

School Culture at Shri Shikshayatan School

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Shri Shikshayatan School’s culture is strong. Students are proud to attend what is one of Kolkata’s best preK-12 private schools, they want to do well, and exhibited great respect for themselves, each other, and their teachers.  We learned through  a walk through of the primary grades that students learn early to stand when a teacher enters or leaves a room and to say “Good morning ma’am.” Leadership is stressed and students had a variety of opportunities to practice speaking in public, get involved with a variety of co-curricular activities, and engage in community service.

The young women with whom we interacted asked excellent questions and were so interested in talking with us and finding out how we liked their school and what our schools were like.  Because students have to wear uniforms it was difficult to tell who the in and out groups were and with 4000 students in one school there must be a great number of cliques. Grouping patterns weren’t obvious to me during our 5 days there but human nature certainly says that they exist. I also wondered about the level of bullying and  harassment and didn’t have the opportunity to ask that question.

I really enjoyed the time I had to talk with students in class, observe their learning and co-curricular activities, examine their student work, and see their smiling faces first thing in the morning.  They are adolescent girls who want a good education so they can attend college, they care about global issues, have pride in their country, like Katy Perry and One Direction, and spend too much time at night on Facebook. These young women are one of India’s most vibrant and important resources.

The Walk to School

Today I decided to photograph the .25 mile walk from our hotel to Shri Shikshayatan School. We are right in the heart of Kolkata.Kolkata school locationThe map route looks rather vanilla.

Here is what it really looks like:

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This morning there was little traffic. Usually crossing the street is a life threatening experience as cars/rickshaws/motorcycles/trucks don’t ever stop unless the traffic light gets backed up. There are people heading to work, others begging on the streets, girls in their school uniforms walking to school, street vendors getting their day started among the blaring cacophony of honking horns, construction in nearby buildings, and people talking on their mobile phones. Entering the school gates brings some relative peace and the business of the streets is closed out.

Driving in Bangalore?

Do.Not.Attempt.Ever. 

Have you ever wondered about driving in India?  As someone who is happy to drive just about anywhere, I would not be able to handle this. It is complete chaos, no rules, survival of the fittest driving on really horrendous roads.

Another way to look at it: Boston drivers and Boston road conditions look like disciplined German drivers on Germany’s very pristine and efficient road/highway system.

The pics really don’t do it justice. Yes, there are 3 people on that scooter and the women on the back is riding side-saddle as the driver weaves through traffic during morning rush hour. I’ve seen 4 people on a scooter with the mom tightly hanging on to her infant child!  Fortunately, we are being driven around in a nice bus with a crazy driver.

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