The last day of January was this month’s only official “class day”. The dearth of class time was happily filled with time in Baja. The trip was rich with a variety of opportunities to expand our experience and knowledge in Spanish language, desert, island, and marine ecology, and creative writing. Each day had varying components of these subjects at varying degrees of intensity.
A local foreign language educational troupe worked with our three classes teaching Spanish over six days. We split the time between La Duna, an ecological retreat and educational center north of La Paz, and Todos Santos, the primary locale for our trip. The three teachers have worked with the Link School in the past and once again did an excellent job engaging students in active learning and expanding each student’s ability to communicate. Everything they learned was used in speaking with locals, from volunteers at La Duna, to fishermen, the trip guides, restauranteurs, and shopkeepers. They also used their skills during the challenging scavenger hunt in downtown Todos Santos. A few students were challenged to complete special tasks in which they had to ask very specific questions to Spanish speakers, such as about goat husbandry or marketing and distribution of a fisherman’s catch. If you have an opportunity to ask any of our students questions in Spanish, please do!
Scientific learning happened throughout the trip through observation, inductive and deductive inquiry, class style discussions, establishing historical context, and any other number of ways that students were asked absorb the surroundings. There were classes during hikes, as part of surf camp, and while preparing for ocean currents and swimming with sea lions, as well as impromptu reviews of aspects of biology, environmental science, physics of waves, chemistry, weather, and astronomy. As they say, science is always happening.
Finally, we started the Link reading challenge this semester with each student jumping into at least one book while on the trip. Many completed one or more book, including portions of a Mary Oliver book of poetry used for writing prompts. We also all wrote poetry based on a poem, “I am from…” and began our yearly writing prompt, “I was but now I am,” in which students describe transition, growth, and sense of identity developed during their time at Link.
We are refreshed, inspired, and all a little more tan – a perfect way to return to the traditional classroom.
-Joel Benson, Spanish Instructor