Innovation on Earth

Global Citizenship Resources for Innovation Academy and Beyond

Archive for the tag “New England”

Climbing a Mountain

Today is Labor Day, and it occurred to me recently that I’ve worked four different jobs this year. In addition to teaching full time at Innovation Academy, I directed a service-learning summer program in China, mentored a new teacher, and entertained children with my balloon twisting skills. I also continued my education this year by taking courses with Cambridge College and George Mason University. The amazing part is that none of these felt like “work” because I was having so much fun. I feel very lucky that I make a living by pursuing my passions.

I don’t mean to imply that it’s been an easy year. There have been a lot of challenges to overcome. However, it’s been a year full of learning.  Here are a few lessons that I’m trying to remember as the school year is about to take off.  The photos are from my weekend trip to the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

1) You don’t need to be big to create beautiful things.

2) It’s important to take time to notice the small stuff…

3) And look closely whenever possible.

4) Some paths are clearly marked and some need to be trail-blazed, but there’s no right way.

5) Even if the journey is hard, it all feels worth it when you get to your destination.


6) Even after you get to your destination, there’s always more to do (coming down can be even harder)!

7) It’s important to take some time to rest. You can’t always do everything. (I missed out on a second day of hiking because I wasn’t feeling well, but at least I got to read a good book with this beautiful view)

As you can see, you don’t need to travel on an airplane to have adventures, and you don’t need to go far to learn about the world. What mountains have you climbed this year? In your work over the past year, what lessons have you learned?

Beijing to Boston

It’s great to be back in Boston!  As I re-explore my hometown, I am seeing bits of Beijing everywhere.

The Charles River, Cambridge, MA

Lake at the Summer Palace, Beijing

Boston Hubway Bikes (which people can borrow by the hour)

Beijing Share Bikes

Lemonade Stand, Boston Common

Chinese yogurt drinks in clay cups (common on street corners)

Spider Web, Harvard Square

Giant spider and web at Cherry Lady’s farm, Fangshan district

The Neighborhood Restaurant, Somerville, MA

Beijing BBQ on the Terrace

Very old Red Line map (someone tore off the new map sticker), MBTA

Beijing Metro

The Freedom Trail, Boston

Tiananmen Square, Beijing

Public Art Project (The Stranger Exchange), Davis Square, Somerville, MA

Graffiti in the 798 District, Beijing

Local glass blowing artist, Boston Green Fest

Musician at the Ethnic Minorities Park, Beijing

Very local tomatoes (from our house)

Dragon Fruit from Beijing

Granary Burial Ground (Cemetery for Paul Revere, victims of the Boston Massacre, and more), 350 years old

Forbidden City, 600 years old

I’m not surprised that these similarities exist. I’m most shocked that when I look at these pictures, I feel like they’re all “home” in some sense of the word.  I only spent 7 weeks in China, but it got pretty comfortable and familiar.  And it’s fun to be a tourist in my own city; taking photographs helps to see my surroundings in a new light.  It’s good to know that “home” and “away” can be found anywhere.

Week of New England Summer

I am leaving for China in less than 48 hours.  I’ve been trying to pack in a whole summer’s worth of New England fun in the few days that I’ve had off since the last day of school.  As I prepare for my journey, I’ve had some realizations:

Realization #1: I love summer in Massachusetts.  I am thrilled to be going on this adventure, but I also feel very lucky to live in such a beautiful place, so close to the ocean.

Realization #2: Food can tell you a lot about a culture, and it can be wonderful, strange, and everything in between.  Today, I went to a pig roast!  I’ve heard that Chinese people eat weird animal parts, like cow entrails and chicken feet, but every culture has traditions that might be considered bizarre to those from another culture. It was a bit sad to see that pig on the fire, but she lived a happy life on a farm and probably died in a much more humane way than most meat from a supermarket. I’m looking forward to trying some new foods soon.

Realization #3: Learning about a new culture is like being a little kid all over again. I spent some time this week visiting with my friends’ children on Cape Cod.  It was so fun to watch them discover new things, from new types of marine life to simple pleasures like the feel of the sand.  I imagine that when I arrive in China, I’ll be just like a toddler, with so many new sights, smells, sounds, and tastes to get used to.

Realization #4: We’re all living on the same planet, even though China seems so far away.  The beautiful sunset above is a glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean, but it’s the same sun that will shine down on me in Beijing.  Even though it’s going to take me about 18 hours of flying to get there, the moon and the sun and the wind and the rain will be the same.

It’s hard to believe that I will be in China so soon!  If you haven’t already signed up to follow this blog through email or facebook, please do. There will be posts coming soon from Beijing, and you don’t want to miss it.  Also, I’d love your help spreading the word about this blog. Please share with others who might be interested.

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