I wish I could say this about 2020 already! But wait we still have hope…

While the world is busy dealing with an alien on this planet, let’s talk about sustainability and education, shall we?

I started this blog with the intention to share travel destinations but IoT (Internet of Things) outpaced me. So while I was figuring out a way to change the content on the blog, I came across some meaningful organizations that gave me a direction. They changed the way I travel and how they did it you will know after reading this article.

Adapting to a new way of travelling!

It all started at the Facilitator’s Training Program organized by Journeys with Meaning. It’s a workshop that allows you to share and discuss facts about the environment, sustainable living, the impact of human activities on the environment, flaws in government policies, and much more. This is followed by interactive discussions and brainstorming on important issues like the government policies, ways of adapting sustainable living, and most importantly how to educate people on issues that matter the most.

The workshop opened up many avenues about sustainable living and also shed light on problems that we shall face in the near future if no action is taken right now. Thanks to the facilitators – Vinod Sreedhar (Founder JwM), Neha Kandalgaonkar, Hormzad Mehta, and Rajat Kukreja, the cascading fall of my hope was stopped. Through their interactive and practical approach at explaining the impact of our actions on the environment and how we can stop them, I was able to understand the complexities of our society and the simple actions that can lead to better outcomes.

Classroom with a view!
Photo Credit – http://journeyswithmeaning.org

You must be overwhelmed by now, but don’t worry, it’s fair to get bowed down but trust me this is when you start taking actions.

Sitting inside your cubicle or at a café and reading about climate change or global warming might be distressing. Hence, to avoid that, the guys at JwM take you to places that are beautiful but at the same time are facing the wrath of climate change. Through their watch & learn approach, they are educating the urban population about the impact of their activities on places like Ladakh while bridging a very important gap between urban and rural India.

Learn the intricacies of our planet in such a setting
Photo Credit – Journeys with Meaning

Travelling is the best form of education. However, it has to be carried out in the right manner in order to absorb the best possible learnings.

I am learning this new method of travelling where I should be more of an observer than just a mere tourist. Accepting the local norms and culture is the first step towards trying this new way of travelling that is earth-friendly and sustainable to the local communities. So if you are up for it and want to take action, try planning a trip with journeyswithmeaning.org.

Learning the new way of schooling or rather un-schooling!

Education and literacy should always go together but on the contrary, humans focus more on the latter. Literacy addresses the question – “How much do you know?” and it can be measured. However, education is qualitative and acts as a filter to your literacy. To put it simply, whatever you are told can be questioned if you are educated. Just like the way you would question the lawmakers about their decisions that lack logic and efficiency.

SECMOL Campus, Leh – https://secmol.org/

On a recent trip to Ladakh, I used the newfound approach of travelling by a visit to SECMOL – a school founded by Mr Sonam Wangchuk. The concept of this school is the brain-child of a group of Ladakhi students who felt the urgency of a more relevant education system for them. To explain in a simple way, “F for Fan” is of no relevance to the Ladakhis because they don’t use the fans. Hence the group created a space that helps a Ladakhi to grow and educate himself through PRACTICAL knowledge on environmental, traditional, social, and cultural subjects. Alongside, the school equips them for the outside world through modern academic knowledge.

Assembly Hall at SECMOL

To talk about the infrastructure and practicality, the school is completely solar-powered and solar heated. It is run and maintained by the students themselves who are involved in various activities like waste segregation, food storage, finances, and more. One of the highlights of the school is that it teaches students about the Indian constitution by actually letting them form a government to oversee operations in the school. Each government has its own agenda for a monthly basis which further teaches students important life lessons.

Granary made and managed by students at SECMOL

SECMOL is the perfect definition of un-schooling through hands-on experiences. Along with the support of our urban community, it can do more and perhaps become a model education system that boards across India can follow.

Going back to our roots in rural Maharashtra

Approximately 200 kilometres from Mumbai lies a beautiful hamlet called Purushwadi. Perched comfortably on a hilltop, the village is famous for its firefly festival.

A dramatic sunset embracing the landscape!

Last year, thanks to Tripoto & Grassroutes, I got the opportunity to cover this place for an assignment. Grassroutes, with its unique model, is responsible for the revival of villages like Purushwadi, by giving them an opportunity to thrive and be self-sustainable. Through their efforts, they have trained the locals and developed an ecosystem where villagers wear the guide’s cape and interact with travellers and explain them their culture, traditions, the biodiversity of the region, and much more.

Encountering the nuances of rural Maharashtra

This has resulted in an increase in the average annual income of the villagers and a spike in job opportunities within the village which further reduces distress migration. Furthermore, this effort has also given a boom to eco-tourism in Maharashtra and acts as a great source of practical learning especially to the students.

During my stay, I had the opportunity to farm, cook a traditional meal, swim in the river, and interact with the villagers and understand their daily lives and problems. It was also interesting to know that in the age of cashless transaction, the age-old barter system still prevails in Purushwadi.

Thanks to the efforts by Grassroutes, things are changing in places like Purushwadi. However, the urban population must take the responsibility to accept the change in travel so that communities like the one in Purushwadi can thrive in a sustainable eco-system.

The coming decade is perhaps the most important for humans. Protecting the environment at all cost must be the primary objective of the government and corporates across the globe. At the same time, citizens must actively participate in sustainable actions and not rely on governing bodies alone. Starting the process by adopting a new way of travelling is a great way to learn about the interlinks in the environment and techniques to address the problems.

So if you haven’t made any travel plans yet then reach out to these guys and try a new way of travelling!

Next time, travel for a purpose!
2019, what a year that was!

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