Sunday, May 24, 2015

One Day Without Shoes-- 2015 Edition

"This one goes out to the heroes. Every day heroes. Yeah, I'm talking to you. You probably are all like, "I'm not a hero. You're talking to the wrong person." And I'm all like, "You're talking to your TV!" So listen up! I think you're a hero and don't even know it yet. Maybe you're like me. You look in the mirror and you don't really see a hero. You look and you just see a regular kid. A really good-looking regular kid. But you? You're a hero. Whether you're a kid or a grown-up. You're way more than you might think you are. You're more than your problems and you're more than your mistakes. Somewhere inside, you're a hero. You might not have a cape or wear underwear outside your clothes (that's probably a good thing). You have everything right now to change the world. EVERYTHING! Heroes are just ordinary people who have done extraordinary things. They inspire other people to be extraordinary."
-- Kid President (For the Heroes)

Kid President is awesome. He and I could say the exact same thing (I could even dress up in a cape and jump off benches in the park) and my students are going to be more receptive to Kid President because he's their age. He's also hysterical and charismatic and I wish he was a student in my class.

His "For the Heroes" video tied in perfectly with TOMS One Day Without Shoes campaign which just so happens to be one of my favorite days of the entire year. TOMS is an American based company that started in 2006, when it's founder, Blake Mycoskie, traveled to Argentina and witnessed, firsthand, the hardships faced by children living without shoes. (You can read all about how TOMS got started and how the company has grown on the TOMS website.) TOMS operates under the motto "One For One"-- for every pair of shoes that is purchased, another pair is donated to a child in need.

I think it's easy for people, especially elementary school students, to think that they're too insignificant to make any real change. TOMS has clearly blown that myth to pieces as they have donated over 35 million pairs of shoes since it's foundation. There are many pieces of wisdom that I hope to bestow upon my students (multiplication, long division, the scientific method), but more importantly that differences among people are what make us special, that our words and actions have lasting impacts on those around us, and that each person is capable to make significant change in the world around them.

And so we went barefoot. We learned about empathy versus sympathy, we laughed along with Kid President, we posted photos on Instagram with the hashtag #withoutshoes, we started a shoe drive to collect gently used shoes for people right here in Rio de Janeiro who need them.

One step at a time, one day at a time, we're making a difference. Because, as Kid President says, heroes are just ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Click here to read about One Day Without Shoes of years past.
One Day Without Shoes-- 2012 Edition (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
One Day Without Shoes-- 2013 Edition (Siguatepeque, Honduras)
One Day Without Shoes-- 2014 Edition (Siguatepeque, Honduras)

Sunday, May 10, 2015


When thinking back on 2014, I was reminded of the OneWord365 philosophy that I had so adamantly believed I could succeed at. I had chosen the word "faith" and believed I could apply it to all aspects of my life and embody "faith" as best I could. I would chronicle my journey throughout the year and look back and see how much I had grown. 

But then when I clicked on the "OneWord365" label, I saw one blog post. ONE. In 365 days, I had written about faith one time. Way to stick to that goal.

I began thinking about it more and more. I had only written about faith one time, but I certainly didn't live out my faith only one time. 

The time I quit my job in Honduras when I so desperately wanted to stay? Faith.
The time I accepted a job in Rio de Janeiro? Faith.
The time my visa took  exponentially longer than it should have to go through and I still didn't look for another job? Faith.
The time I laid in bed and cried each night for weeks, unsure if I would last in Rio until Christmas yet waking up each morning and going to class? Faith.
The time I renewed my contract to teach in Rio for another school year? Faith.

It was there. It was present in every single thing that I did whether I was aware of it or not.

For 2015 I have a new goal, a new word. Conquer. 

Conquer fears. Conquer difficulties. 

I lived by faith last year and it brought me here. To a vibrant, busy city that is full of unknowns. Full of opportunities. Full of things that seem really scary.

This year I will conquer these fears. I will push myself to do things that I think are too difficult or not part of my character. I will push myself outside of my comfort zone. I will conquer fears that have been present in my life for many years.

I will conquer challenges that are placed in front of me-- whether they be a challenging situation or a challenging student. Life is full of challenges, but you grow as person in the way that you conquer those challenges.

I'm not so great a New Years Resolutions, but I'm better at One Word 365 than I had originally thought.

Conquer-- I got this.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

"If it's both terrifying and amazing then you should definitely pursue it." --Erada