Tuesday, March 8, 2016, was an auspicious day. Following up on our RideOM trip, I flew out to California to first meet with Patagonia. I was honored with an invitation to discuss, in person, their incredible early childhood development program in the context of Lali Gurans. I very nearly cried, caught myself twice. It was a dream come true to see Patagonia's early childhood development program (ECD) in action, as it functioned at their headquarters.
I met with Anita Furtaw, an incredible and passionate director who has been working in ECD programs for 40 years. Her plans and ideas have been utilized in some of the best ECD practices in the world with Patagonia's, in my opinion, being the crowning achievement.
Everything I felt was possible to be provided for our children, and all children, starting at a very young age, I saw happening before my eyes. Children around the age of 1 year old were able to understand the caretakers speaking to them in English and Spanish. The children could even use aminimal amount of sign language to communicate when they are hungry or when they are finished eating. This outside the box and advanced thinking in education creates a drive for knowledge and success in the children’s minds from a very young age. Perhaps most importantly, Anita and Patagonia have developed a program where creativity flows so freely you can see it in their children's eyes at any moment; it is palpable. There was no fighting, no greed but a symbiotic balance of respect and care between children and caretakers: one of the most beautiful things I have seen in a while. Watching the children play outside in their multi dynamic space was inspired and inspiring.
A key element to Patagonia's ECD program is that they feel whatever can be taught inside can and should be taught outside whenever possible to connect the children to nature, and the importance of respecting our shared enviornment. This is exactly what the world needs to ensure the next generation will be adaptable in creating solutions to healing our ever endangered world.
I cannot thank Anita and Patagonia enough for showing us the way for their insights into this incredible world of educational possibilities that I know will change the world for the better.
After, I had the good fortune to meet with the Non-Resident Nepali Agency, (NRN) a Nepali organization with serious clout and interest into supporting SOCF and Lali Gurans! I attended to watch the presentation of SOCF partner Kishor Lohani, the president of Prakriti Ko Ghar (PKG), the Nepali firm helping to develop and maintain Lali Gurans. Though we were incredibly nervous as we had no idea what time he was going to present, and stressing over every detail like what kind of cables we needed to have to connect to their projector, we, as always pulled through by working together.
The event, arranged at a Nepali restaurant complete with Dal Baht music and traditional dancing was chaotic, yet beautiful, in such a way that a part of me felt I was back in Nepal. Though the microphone was--until Kishor had it raised--too low to hear most of the other speakers, and the crowd wasn’t listening too much at first as children were running around unsupervised, spraying each other with “Silly String” foam, once Kishor stood up, he killed it. They all listened intently to his words and to our work. I could feel the curiosity in the room spike exponentially.
The conclusion of this auspicious day? We are very hopeful that if we (SOCF) puts in the time to review all the resources Anita gave us, we will make something even more incredible than our already award-winning project. We hope that she will help us tocontinue to refine the programs we dream of creating for the children of Lali Gurans and the community, so that we can create the best educational programs Nepal has ever seen. As well, the NRN seem more than interested in helping our project. They have agreed tohelp us arrange fundraisers in different state (they have chapters all across the country) and hopefully, upon our soon to be granted 501 C 3 status, might even help finance the project as well.
Suffice it to say, this day was a good day!