The last few weeks,I have spent doing a lot of thinking,a lot of re-configuring (it can be argued that has been all of 2010 thus far)….but last week quite literally went on a journey…road trip from NYC to Knoxville,TN for Destination Imagination Global Finals. Destination Imagination is a creative problem solving organization-kids of various ages work on solutions,they present at various levels (local,regional,state) ,and Globals represents essentially,the best of the solutions presented around the country and world.
A week ago today,I was on the road,literally-traveling the journey with the person ,who I affectionately say “Kidnapped” me into DI (well to be precise he and his wife sort of kidnapped me into it,but I am grateful to them for it !)
This year,I was nominated (and chosen) to be an appraiser at the Global Finals. So I blocked off the days on my calendar,with absolutely no idea what to expect.The experience was transformational,overwhelming and exhausting but TOTALLY worth it To be amongst so many,from all walks of life,from all over the country,and from as far away as Korea,Mexico,Guatemala,Brazil,Turkey- to name a few.
An environment,so many passionately and freely volunteer their time and energy.People taking time off from work,to come down and participate in this phenomenal event.Traveling great distances (my roomate was from Singapore,an expat,who had literally two days before just moved back to the US !).
Encountering children (and adults) who didn’t speak English,but we had one thing in common,okay maybe two- DI and pins ! I had so much fun interacting with kids,some of whom knew few words of English beyond knowing that in New York City,we have the Statue of Liberty,and the Empire State building.From the little girl,sitting alone away from all the kids pin trading,who I gave a pin to,which resulted in her (and myself) being in the middle of a pin trading bubble.
Having the opportunity to work side by side with a phenomenal team of appraisers from around the country,with the exception of one-who I had never met or worked with before.Meeting dozens,if not hundreds of new people throughout the days in Knoxville.
Being able to FINALLY meet someone face to face,who I’ve been interacting with on Twitter ( @IDODI ). Watching literally hundreds of kids,work together,creatively to present their solutions to the challenges this year. Getting to see that team that I saw present at regional and affiliate levels get 4th place in their division (the highest a NY team placed this year- special shout out to the team from Walter Panas HS).
Getting to meet children from around the world,including some really special kids from a phenomenal school in Turkey-who blew us away with their performance-truly transcended cultural and language barriers,and entertained all of us ! I may just have to watch that Turkish channel I’m sure is buried amongst the hundreds of my cable channels-these kids will surely be on some sort of show and become famous someday :).
I look forward to the upcoming year in NY and hope that next year I am fortunate enough to be selected to work Global Finals again. To see more of my photos from the days in Knoxville-check out my flickr stream and also You Tube for some video of a few teams,as well as tons of photos located on Facebook as well.
And now,back to “real life”,where alot of great things are happening as well.But I returned to NYC with a renewed sense of optimism and hope,and a belief that we have to find more ways to engage and challenge kids,so that they learn and develop a broad range of skills,that hopefully will better prepare them to tackle the situations that will face them in our future.
I was very fortunate to have had a wide range of experiences growing up in New York City-getting to explore my academic interests,as well as artistic interests,and having friends from all walks of life.Even with that said,I wish I’d had the opportunity to participate in something like this-I would have loved it ! But,alas it is never too late,and I hope by giving of my time,energy and enthusiasm I can help keep something like this going,and maybe even bring it to others.
I highly recommend checking out the Destination Imagination programs where you are located,and if you’re local to NYC ,and interested in possibly getting involved-DO email me and I’d be glad to tell you more about my experiences so far and connect you with the appropriate parties for more information as well.
’til the next time. Always at your service.