June 22, 2012
I head to Nicaragua to help document Casa Verde’s environmental and educational work in less than a week. As usual when I’m about to get on a plane and magically appear in a different country some handful of hours later, I’m both giddy and incredulous. Imminent international travel is always a bit surreal: it never feels like it’s actually happening until it is. It’s pretty spectacular how we can dream up and manifest our own futures, and yet, despite all our imaginings and projections, how stubbornly blank that future remains until we actually get there and start filling it up.
So, of course I still have a million questions, half of which will probably get answered through my first impressions of people and place. Most importantly, though, I’m wondering what environmental, economic, and social issues the El Limon community faces and how much (or how little) I’ll be able to grasp in a few short weeks. The trick of journalism is to manage a deft blend of curiosity, objectivity, deference, and persistence in the face of something you’re often diving into for the first time -- or at least the first time in that context or from that angle. And because the observer affects the observed, there’s no such thing as pure objectivity, and there’s no way to completely and accurately represent something through a simple narrative, here you are, facing the impossible, ready to tackle what is essentially an art project with the goal of imparting some measure of truth. Good luck!
In the meantime, as a longtime education reporter, I’ve been thinking a lot about how Omprakash can be a more widely known resource for teachers and students. First off, I added a listing to an article called “Teacher-Tested Travel Grants” (scroll to the bottom) and a link to a blog post called “Travel for Teachers” (it’s under Travel Grants and Opportunities) on Edutopia.org, where I was once a staff writer and multimedia producer. I know many educators have applied for and received grants from Omprakash to conduct amazing projects abroad and I'm sure many others would be thrilled to apply for camera grants or integrate other Omprakash resources into their classrooms at home. Edutopia is a pretty large and well-respected community of educators; I hope some of them will notice the links and check them out!
In a few hours, I’ll get on the phone with Casa Verde’s director, Amie, and a few volunteers to chat about what to expect. I can’t wait to see what’s around the corner…
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