Walking alone in the world’s strangest places, only with your backpack, that was Paul Salopek’s dream; his own Odyssey. He is doing it for a project with the name: Out of Eden Walk (https://www.nationalgeographic.org/projects/out-of-eden-walk/#section-0), and he follows the footsteps of the first humans who migrated from Africa to all over the world back in the Stone Ages. A storyteller and journalist, he set out this trip to rediscover and transfer, in his diaries and online docuseries, the values of slow journalism and the spirit of the genuine adventure as a learning tool (you can have a marvelous project on these issues with the materials provided at: https://www.nationalgeographic.org/education/out-of-eden-classroom/).
In case you are more of an activist than an introverted explorer, you can follow Ivan Bourgnon’s sailing boat: The Manta, in the many plastic hunting missions somewhere in the globe’s oceans. This specially designed sailing boat ( https://youtu.be/kF0trcGMsNE) collects the plastic “islands” that can be found in the oceans and transform them into the energy it needs to be propelled and clean the oceans. The legendary programme “The SeaCleaners” is to set off in 2024 and seeks for volunteers to become its crew members. This novel idea and project envisage collecting one to three tones per day with a maximum collection capacity of 10,000 tonnes a year. 10,000 tonnes of non-recyclable plastic waste found in the Earth’s oceans. The solution that Bourgnon works for is many Mantas to be built and cross the oceans, hoping to clean the oceans from the plastic some time in 2060 (estimated amount of plastic waste in the oceans: 30 million tonnes).
But if you are not so sure of the priorities of your life, it is a good idea to study Joshua Becker’s minimalism theory before you embark on any of the world’s adventures. Becker’s motto: “When we overvalue possessions, we undervalue life” has become popular all over the world through his books, TED talks and his site (https://www.becomingminimalist.com/becoming-minimalist-start-here/). The main idea of his teachings is simple: “decluttering” and “deowning” help you identify your mission in life, help you get your life back and understand what the important thing is. More than an Epicurean, it is a holistic approach about getting your life back in track by being a minimalist. Living with less, Becker claims, gives you more room to think and enjoy your life.
In the same line of thinking, George Hadjigeorgiou’s ZOE promises to help us learn more about our unique biology, discovering more about the science of our body. ZOE which comes from the Greek word «ζωή» is actually (https://joinzoe.com/our-science) the collection of data from the subscribers which are processed by artificial intelligence algorithms, digital technologies and leading scientists in real time and give you information about the vital functions of the human body such as the digestive or the microbiome system. In this way you have access to customized, personal information about your dietary needs and the functions of your body. All these happen with a medical kit you use and it is online with ZOE systems at headquarters. The whole process is monitored through a mobile application which interacts between you and the group of scientists that monitor your body biology https://joinzoe.com/how-it-works).
The MAIN COURSE
We are in desperate need of new heroes / role-models. Nowadays, our heroes are celebrities, reality shows players/contestants, footballers or social media influencers. These personae may whet our appetite for glory and money, may show us the glamorous slice of life but they are not inspiring. We need new heroes to instill perseverance, persistence, consistency, growth mindset. These new heroes, like these four guys I have just mentioned, should drive us to do things, to change the world, to do things for the rest of the people, not only for themselves, they have to be ego-sharers and not ego-boosters.
The fortune cookie
And here is where you come in! This new academic year, make a task for you to become an ego-sharer. Nothing fancy, no stunts or exotic moves. Embrace a purpose and run after it enthusiastically. Let your students get carried away by it. Choose something earthy, easy and close to your location and context. It could be to design some bins for the local park, or, to use led lights to light the pavements around your school. It may be to plant some trees, or, to adopt a couple of kittens. Above all, try to inspire your students, make them feel this purpose as a life changing one. Make it important. List possible moves and things to do, advertise it locally and ask help from local businesses and key figures in your area. Try to involve the parents and create a “task-related” community. Let students work on that, prepare short talks and presentations, they have to identify with the purpose and own it. Make a task timeline and follow it. Praise and reward any ideas and achievements. Use as much English as possible and let everybody know what you are after. Enjoy and voice out the end product.
I would appreciate it if you let me know the results of your little intervention. Let’s call it: A new hero on the block.