Speaking in Slides

This is our dream to drive around the world and this is our team made up of my husband, two sons and me.  Since my husband is passionate about off-roading we plan to rent SUVs or converted 4×4 campers for each leg of our journey.  Our children will be roadschooled meaning the whole world is their classroom.

Other families have undertaken such trips with their children in tow.  The Zapps started out as a couple and had four children along the way in different countries.  They have been traveling for 15 years using a vintage car.  Other families have embarked on similar adventures, lasting a year or more and they have websites and books recounting their story.

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The first route I made was too ambitious and I reckoned would take much more than a year so I worked towards simplifying it.  Then I hit upon the idea of doing a PhD on alternative forms of education.  Pinpointing the locations of these schools then gave the exercise more focus.  We are sure that the route will change but we are flexible and adaptable travelers.  Instead of one continuous long trip, it’s cut up into manageable parts where we can go from one destination back to our new home base in Yunnan and then after a while set off for the next leg of the journey.  Currently, we live in Dagang, Tianjin located in the northeast portion of China.

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Meeting an Australian professor gave me the idea that the dream to drive around the world can possibly be combined with a PhD thesis.  At first, I thought it was such a far-out concept but then it made more and more sense as I worked out the details in a full-blown research proposal complete with a list of literature to review, a conceptual framework and a list of over 20 non-traditional schools and learning centers around the world.

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I emailed professors and authors my proposal, seeking advice and guidance.  In the title of my thesis, Walden Meets Ken and Gray: Journey as a Search for Knowledge in Nature, Creativity and Play, Walden refers to the classic book on living with nature by Henry David Thoreau; Ken refers to Sir Ken Robinson who has been very vocal about creativity in education; Gray is Peter Gray, psychologist and author of Free to Learn.  I emailed Ken and Peter but only Peter replied telling me that he’d be in Taiwan this coming July for the Asia Pacific Democratic Education Conference.  Of course, I lunged at the chance to hear him in person.  My friend, Donna and I have booked the tickets to see him and attend the conference.

I emailed two American professors who thought the thesis proposal is too broad so I’m working on other possibilities such as producing a journal article about Project Based Learning (PBL).  PBL is something I’ve been very interested in applying to my English classes in China.  Aside from the thesis and journal article proposal, there’s also a book proposal.  Whatever the end product is, what matters is the enriching process of learning and exploration — and never forget the primary importance of our own children’s education.

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We’d like to try out things in our trip such as Couchsurfing, Airbnb, Helpexchange, the Affordable Travel Club and other ways that could help us stretch the budget.  My husband thinks that I can also share the miracle of surviving cancer while pregnant and then giving birth to a healthy child.  We could get in touch with cancer societies and organization who might be interested in hearing the story.

Hurdles abound and probably the most challenging would be handling the reaction of our families both in China and the Philippines.  They’ll be worried and would oppose what to them is a very crazy idea.

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All my life, I’ve been trying to find my Ikigai, my reason for being.  I’ve tried studying different things, ventured into various jobs, failed businesses, prayed for enlightenment and direction when I felt lost and unsure, but never experienced that sense of fullness that I longed for that’s best illustrated in this Venn diagram below.  I know people whose circles have merged beautifully in their lives but in mine, the circles float around seemingly unconnected and disjointed even if I have pursued many things with passion and purpose.  This project gives me hope that the circles will draw closer to an intersection.

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