Innovation on Earth

Global Citizenship Resources for Innovation Academy and Beyond

Student Guest Post: Family Adventures in Bermuda

It’s so great to see Innovation Academy students were having many international adventures this summer. Kyle reports back from Bermuda, where Hope went last year. Don’t you wish you were there now?

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This way to Bermuda My family went on a cruise to Bermuda.  While we were there we got to see some really cool things.

One excursion we went on was to the caves.  As the story goes, two boys were playing cricket and lost their ball in one of the caves.  I learned that cricket is more complicated than baseball and sort of like golf.  CaveIt’s a popular game there.  So anyway, the boys went looking for their ball and discovered the caves.  The caves were very dark and at one point, our tour guide shut off all the lights and I couldn’t even see my hand in front of my face.  Stagmalites grow very slowly.  Here is a picture of me in the cave with the stagmalites.Inside the CaveWe also visited the National Museum.  Here I learned that many different people helped to make Bermuda successful when it was first discovered.  Different groups of people such as Native Americans, Blacks, English, and Portuguese, came and settled there. They used their own knowledge and strengths to make it great. For example, the Native Americans used their knowledge of planting and harvesting food to develop farms.  I liked that everyone worked together to make this island successful.

~Kyle E.

Bermuda boat

Student Guest Post: Backwater Lagoons of India

Another awesome guest post from 6th grader Athul. Who would have thought that he could rival last year’s elephant post?

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This summer, I went to India just like before but went somewhere totally different from last year. This year, I went to a place called Kumarakom, a popular tourism destination near a city called Kottayam in Kerala, India. Set into backwaters of the Vembanad Lake is one of the largest freshwater lakes . . . no, it is the largest freshwater lake of all of Kerala and, Kerala is a BIG place. The most popular way to enjoy the scene is on something called a houseboat. This is when things get interesting, because if you look at it literally looks like a long beach hut fit right onto a boat which apparently is the reason why it’s called house boat.  Houseboat

The inside looked just like a mini house, having a tv and one couch and two long curved benches (to cover the front of the boat) benches

There was also dining room, bedroom and a kitchen:   

The food was cooked on board and it was awesome. It contained fish fry, fish curry, chicken curry, shrimp fry, vegetable curry and some yogurt to wash off the spiciness, especially the fish curry which was the spiciest dish.feast

But the main highlight was the shrimp. It was nearly as big as a lobster, which was the biggest shrimp that I’ve ever seen in my life!

Shrimp compared to my Dad’s hand

Shrimp compared to my Dad’s hand

I hope you enjoyed my blog about Kumarakom. I’m sure you’ll love the experience of travelling in a house boat. If you liked this blog try to read my other one called “Close Encounter with Temple Elephant” which I did last year. Thank you!

~Athul A.

Yummy Japanese Desserts

mochiAfter reading Kerry’s post about sampling global treats at Epcot, my mouth started watering for all the delicious sweets I got to try in Japan. Here are three of my favorites:

1. Mochi ~ These little rice paste balls never really impressed me, until I had them freshly made. Check out the way they pound the mochi into these little balls, stuffed with red bean sweet goodness:

2. Printed Cookies ~ The Japanese don’t mess around when it comes to appearance. Everything is displayed so elegantly.

Printed Cookie

3. Shaved Ice ~ Such a great treat on a hot day. And they make them HUGE! Why don’t they do these more in the United States?

Want to read more to make your stomach growl? I have a post about Japanese fast food, but I’ve also written about sweets in posts from trips to other places. China has lots of strange flavor combos and foods that made me say yuck and yum. I also got to have some pretty special meals in Ukraine and cooking class in Turkey. Hungry yet?

Student Guest Post: A Taste of International Cuisine at Epcot

There are lots of ways to have international experiences without leaving the United States. Sixth grader Kerry got to experience global cuisine at Disney’s Epcot Park, where travelers can “visit” many countries all in a single day. Who else has been around the world at Epcot? If you’ve never been, you can get a taste of the experience by reading Kerry’s blog entry below. 

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Map of Epcot’s World Village

I didn’t travel internationally this summer, but I spent two weeks in Florida. I enjoyed Epcot and spent quite a bit of time at each country represented. While visiting, I searched for new foods I had never tried. I tried quite a few and enjoyed sharing with my family.

In the United Kingdom, I tried two types of candy bars and a type of cookie. I liked the Aero candy bar which had a mint airy center. My mom liked the Lion candy bar which had caramel and wafers. Nobody in my family liked the Jaffa Cakes. We all thought the orange filling tasted fake.

We moved onto France and went into the French bakery. It was hard to choose just one item to try as they all looked wonderful. I finally chose something called Tarte Aux Fraises. It was a mini pie with a custard filling and decorated with whip cream and strawberries on top. It was delicious and very filling even with sharing.Strawberry

Cola FlavorI was feeling full at this time so we decided to purchase foods we could take with us to try later. The next country I visited was Japan. I bought a drink that tasted like Coke. The bottle was interesting which is what got my attention in the store. I had to peel the label back and push a marble into the drink with the palm of my hand. Another item I bought in Japan was potato chips that had seaweed on them. I had never tried seaweed before but I liked the chips so much, I would like to try other items with seaweed.

While visiting each country, I was able to watch several performances of music and dance. I have been to Epcot many times before but doing this project really made me appreciate it more and be on the lookout for new experiences that in the past I would just walk by.

~Kerry M.

Student Guest Post: Dancing about Hindu Gods

Today’s guest post comes from soon-to-be sixth grader, Ishan. It reminds me of the story I saw performed in Bali, which was also a Hindu tale. Do you know other cultures that have stories as interesting as this one?

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This summer I went to a Bharata Natyam performance. It was about different forms of VIshnu, one of the Hindu gods.  It was made up of lots of different stories about the forms of Vishnu. Bharata NatyamThe forms are called avatars. My favorite story was the one where Vishnu turned into a person with the body of a human and the head of a lion. A demon-king was praying to Brahma, who is another one of the Hindu gods, that he could be not be killled by an animal or human, at day or at night, inside or outside, on earth or in heaven. His wish was granted and he went around wreaking havoc. His son kept on praying to Vishnu and that made the demon-king angry. His son one day said, “Vishnu is everywhere,” so the demon-king asked, “So Vishnu is in this pillar?” And his son said, “Yes.” So the demon-king punched the pillar, and out jumped the Man-Lion, and fought with him until twilight, and went to the doorstep with him, put him on his thigh, and then killed him.

Bharata Natyam is an ancient classical dance that uses movement of hands, eyes, face, and feet.  It comes from South India.  My sister was in the performance.  She was in another story.

10 weird things that I did not buy in Japan… but could have.

Shops in Japan sell everything under the sun… sometimes even items that made me laugh out loud. These were some of my favorites. And ok, some of them I wish I had bought.

10. Realistic Fake Food Bling

Want a cell phone covered with rice? Sushi earrings? One shop that I visited makes novelty items out of the plastic food items used in Japanese restaurant displays.

Plastic Food Bling9. Finger Sunglasses

I don’t think these offer a lot of sun protection.

Finger Glasses

8. “Will you be a cat?” Face Mask

Give yourself a facial at home with these fun masks. I guess you can also look like a cat while you are pampering yourself. Japanese convenience stores sold all kinds of face masks, with “flavors” like red ginseng, bee venom, apricot, avocado, and snail.

Will you be a cat?

7. Chocolate and Marshmallow Pizza

We passed this sign while not so hungry. Otherwise, I would have stopped. How can you go wrong here?

Chocolate Marshmellow Pizza

6. A Wooden Prayer Plaque Covered in Breasts

These wooden plaques are called “Ema.” Shinto worshippers buy one, write their wish on the wood, and hang it at the shrine. This particular shrine was made to honor women, and apparently the breasts symbolize a healthy childbirth. It was still a little funny to me to see a bunch of fabric breasts at a religious site.

5. Captain Santa Clothing

I never associated Santa Claus with boating, but I guess they make an interesting pairing!

Captain Santa

4. Really High Clogs

I’m not sure why I didn’t want to buy these 6 inch heels in American flag colors, but look! They were discounted from 20,000 yen to 2,000 yen (that’s around $16, on sale from $160). A bargain!

Giant Clogs

3. Trendy Toe Shoes

Speaking of shoes, I also got to check out these funky treads that bring a modern spin to an old Japanese style. That double toe thing is traditional footwear in various parts of Japan. I did get some Hello Kitty socks like this.

Trendy Toe Shoes

2. A Shirt with an Inspirational Tag

In case you can’t read it, it says, “I think fate cannot win the will of adamant. Therefore, I want to enjoy all the trial of life. Anything is possible if you can only change the negative into a positive thinking. And I want to live my life to its maximum where impossible will no longer be an impossible dream to accomplish. Because that is called happiness.” Deep, right? Too bad the shirt cost over $100 USD and it wasn’t that nice really.

Awesome Tag1. Tear of a Forest Girl

Last, but certainly not least, this costume item seems like a winner, right? It’s a “real fake tear.”

Tear of a Forest Girl

Would you have bought any of these things if you were in Japan? Maybe there’s something lost in translation on some of these. In any case, shopping in Japan is a blast even if you don’t buy anything.

Student Guest Post: Meat, Meat, Meat in Brazil

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming (posts from Ms. Krakauer’s trip to Japan) to give you… a guest entry from an incoming 5th grader! Who else can’t wait to hear more about Rebecca’s trip to Brazil?!

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Hi IACS! In June I went on my yearly trip to Brazil to visit my family. During the five-hour drive from the Rio de Janeiro Airport (Galeão Airport) to my grandfather’s house, we stopped by a Brazilian restaurant…

Vacaria ChurrascariaThe restaurant was called the “Vacaria Churrascaria”. There was an all-you-can-eat buffet in the center and waiters walking around with side dishes and big cuts of meat held by big skewers. The air smelled like meats, fish and sausages of all types. Beef sirloin, ribeye, salmon, pork ribs, everything!

MeatThe waiters would walk from table to table offering the food they were holding. If we said we wanted a certain cut of meat, they would cut part of the meat off with a big meat knife into our plates. If we said we wanted any of the delicious side dishes, the waiters would use two spoons as a grabber to transport the food from the bowl into our plates.

First place for me was the meat. But in second place was definitely the all-you-can-eat buffet. It was in the very center of the restaurant and it had the most delicious foods. It was packed with sushi, salads, risottos, ham, sauces and cheeses. Practically anything you wanted to eat with the delicious meat could be found at the buffet.

RebeccaThe restaurant had an indoor garden with a big fish tank at the entrance hall. With our stomachs full of delicious food, my brother Leo and I went to see the fish in the tank. But these weren’t regular goldfish; these were big, multicolored carp. They looked as if somebody had splattered white, black, orange and yellow paint into the fish tank. Leo was scaring away the fish while I was luring them back with my hand.

Overall, it was great to visit Brazil again. I hope I can go back to the Vacaria Restaurant next year and eat some of the good food. I think it was a great opportunity to have some traditional Brazilian food in a Brazilian churrascaria.

~Rebecca S.

A Million of Everything in Kyoto

Hot!For years, I had dreamed of visiting the famous city of Kyoto, which was once the capital of Japan. On this trip, I finally got that chance. Unfortunately, I chose the wrong time of year. It was really, really hot in Kyoto this August. It felt like a million degrees. At one point, it started getting dark, and it felt like it was cooling down a bit. I checked a weather app on my phone and it said “99 degrees Fahrenheit. Feels like 137 degrees.” No wonder we almost melted.

Despite the heat, I really enjoyed Kyoto. In particular, I loved seeing a million of each of these items below. (Ok, well, I didn’t count. But they seemed like a million!)

A Million Bamboo Trees: The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is like no other place I’ve been. I felt very small!

A Million Orange Shrines: At Fushimi Inari Shrine, visitors can walk through thousands of torii gates. These beautiful structures are used in the Shinto religion, and they follow a long trail up a mountain. I didn’t make it to the top (remember, it was a million degrees out), but still enjoyed a short hike.

A Million Paper Cranes: While visiting a little shrine just off a shopping street, I saw many paper cranes! This looks like a million, right?Paper Cranes


A Million Lights: I read online that it’s possible to visit the roof of the Kyoto Train Station. I didn’t know what to expect but followed the signs up escalator after escalator, until we saw this. A huge staircase lit up with images! We even went back the next night to walk the “sky walk.” It was very high up, and the view was impressive.

In the end, I know that I only saw a small fraction of the sights in Kyoto. My Japanese teacher friend, Omi Sensei, went there with her students on a class trip in June, and she brought our friends Tofu San and Flat Hawk. The students took them around and they get credit for all of these wonderful photos:

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So, now I know that I need to go back to Kyoto some day, right? Flat Hawk and Tofu San have been to more Kyoto sights than I have!

Before closing out this post, I want to share something special we saw on our last night in Kyoto. It reminded me of the dancing fountains we saw in Dubai, but these water droplets were lit up in a million colors. Or something like that :)

Wonders Viewed from a Plane

Aquarium at the Duty Free Shop

Aquarium at the Duty Free Shop

Yesterday I arrived home after a long day of travel, with over 20 hours of flight time! You’d think that I’d be an old hat at flying after visiting so many countries. I am used to it, but I still get nervous when we hit turbulence, even though air travel is very safe. I also get SO excited to look out the window, like that time I flew over Greenland. On this trip, I saw some pretty amazing sights from above:

1. The Great Barrier Reef — We had a short layover in Cairns, Australia between Bali and Tokyo, and we were able to see coral through the clear waters of the Pacific Ocean.

Great Barrier Reef

2. Skyscrapers Amidst Chinese Mountains — Flying home we stopped in Hong Kong, and I was surprised to see so many cities in mainland China surrounded by gorgeous mountains. I didn’t see landscapes like this when I visited Beijing and Shanghai! It looks beautiful!


3. Mount Fuji — I really wanted to climb Mount Fuji on this trip, but for a variety of reasons, we decided not to do it. Then, I hoped to see it from the train back to Tokyo, but it ended up getting too dark too soon. That meant that I was SO excited to literally fly over it when leaving Tokyo. We got an incredible view, which is only sort of clear in this photo:


4. The Arabian Desert — Flying into Dubai on the way to Bali, we got to see this vast desert of the Middle East.


5. Manhattan and Central Park — I live so close to New York City, so it’s not so foreign to me… but I have to admit that it’s pretty impressive to see Central Park and the island of Manhattan from above.

Central Park

Seeing so many of these wonders, it makes me even more in awe of this planet we live on! The journey home was tough, but worth it. I added it up, and I think the whole trip took about 43 hours:

  • 1.5 hours — Train to the airport
  • 2.5 hours — Hanging at Narita Airport near Tokyo
  • 5 hours — Flight to Hong Kong
  • 1.5 hours — Hanging at another airport
  • 16 hours — Flight to New York
  • 1.5 hours — Getting through customs, waiting for bags, finding the way to the rental car booth, etc.
  • 2 hours — Driving home before we realized that we were too tired to drive
  • 10 hours — Relaxing and sleeping at a random hotel in Connecticut, just off the highway
  • 2 hours — More driving
  • 1 hour — Dropping off the rental car at Logan Airport in Boston, and then taking a cab home.

SignSince we passed over lots of time zones between Boston and Tokyo, that 16 hour flight left at 4 pm and landed at 8 pm. Seems kind of magical, right?

We landed in New York City as the sun was setting, and it was truly a beautiful sight:

Sunset NY

Even though I’m home, there’s a lot more from this trip to share. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting a bunch more stories, photos, and videos from this journey. Curious how I ended up staying in the same room where the Dalai Lama stayed? Or how I walked through the beams at the tippy top of Kyoto’s main train station? Check back soon for more posts. For now, this traveler has some jet lag to get over.

Instagram SignP.S. If you are a part of the Innovation Academy community and you have your own global adventure to share, please consider submitting a guest post! We’d love to hear from you.

Second Time’s a Charm in Tokyo

It’s very hot and humid in Tokyo. I can’t keep sunscreen on my body because it melts off with sweat. As I walk around outside, I’m always looking for cold treats and shady places to rest (at this spot, mist sprayed down on us from the canopy):

Even though August apparently isn’t the best time for a visit to Japan, I am so grateful to have made it back. Here are a few of the reasons why I love this country:

#1: Fabulous People

Last summer, I met the most generous and kind group of people. Our program, focused on ESD (Education for Sustainable Development) brought us together to talk about how to use classrooms to inspire our planet’s future leaders. Getting to see some of the amazing people I met last summer made the trip worth it already!Lunch

#2: Futuristic Experiences

Where else can you take a boat that looks like a spaceship? I kept thinking we would take off!

As we soared down the river on our mini Tokyo cruise, I loved seeing all the architecture that looks like we entered a time machine to the future. On the left, you can see the Tokyo Skytree, which is one of the tallest towers in the world.

SkyTree Etc.Even the subway stations are modern and funky.Mark City

#3: Food!

I want to order everything! In many restaurants, there are plastic models of all the dishes in the front, so it makes you even more hungry!

#4: Fun Everywhere

Sure, there are lots of busy businessmen and women in Tokyo, but there are also lots of places to have fun. Want to go to the beach? Go to an arcade with an entire floor of claw machines? Get your photo taken in the most trendy, hipster photobooth you can imagine? You can do all that in Tokyo.

#5: Finding Surprises Around Every Corner

It’s easy to get lost in Tokyo. We were lucky to stay in an Air BnB apartment that provided us with a “Pocket Wifi” device. Just stick it in your pocket and get wifi everywhere – very helpful for Google Maps! It’s so fun to explore, because you never know what you will find down any road.

You might even see the Statue of Liberty! A strange sight in Tokyo, but I’ve learned never to be surprised here.

Statue of Liberty

The best part of being back here is feeling how small our world really is. The sunset in Japan is just as beautiful as the sunset on the other side of the planet. SunsetAnd in this day and age, it’s possible to have friends all over the world. Here I am with some of my Japanese friends and three other travelers: Loki, Flat Hawk, and Tofu San. These little guys may seem like toys, but they’ve each traveled the world and served as a symbol for how connected we all really are.

ESD Friends

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