Watering the Roots

When our children are invited to joyfully engage in and meaningfully experience their learning and their world as a living network of relationships to which they belong and for which they have responsibility, the quality and wisdom of their minds will astonish us and the creative power of their dreams will shape the world.

– Stephanie Pace Marshall

Today the anticipation for the field trip to Tagbo Falls reached its peak as the EP Leaders loaded the bus and vans. As we pulled out of the dusty schoolyard, under a threatening sky of looming dark clouds, students at the school, and the JSS campus across the street, waved us off. The children instantly burst into joyous songs – all three vehicles erupting simultaneously – and continued to sing for the better part of the three hour journey. Our hearts expanded as the little ones in our van – Gifty, Rejoice, Fortune and others – transitioned from traditional songs to This World is Our World as written by Holy Innocents 5th graders; these children, however, are not in the class that we shared this project with two days earlier! These girls have apparently learned the song by ear, and memorized the lyrics by heart, from their friends in the P5 classroom. Ripple effects….

As we made our way over the mountain, vistas of lakes and rolling hills of tropical rain forest spread out before these young eyes for the first time. The kids were gasping in awe at the beauty, lovingly provided by the collaboration of kids at St. Andrew’s School. Break today happened on the roadside, with a Fan Ice Man swamped by the kids, while the driver of the bus fixed a minor clutch issue. We wound down rocky, rolling dirt roads amidst tall grass and lush vegetation. The children gathered in layered circles, as if they were players at a pregame pep rally, ready to take the field. The students erupted into a call and response celebration for their safe arrival. They thanked the drivers, the teachers, Sister Amy, Brother Kelvin, our friends in America… on and on they roared in jubilant and heartfelt gratitude.

They eagerly set out at a blistering pace, running at times through the dense forest, teeming with excitement and immersed in calling birds, chirping crickets and bubbling streams. They could not reach the falls fast enough! Shoes flew off, skirts hiked up, and smalls hands immersed in the refreshing cool waters with eyes in awe of the cascading waterfall before them. During our time here, the kids called out for their photos to be taken, Vida lead another rich chorus of grateful songs, and students and teachers together began skipping stones in the shallow waters. It was a great privilege to soak in the unyielding joy, as time seemed to move more quickly than usual for Africa; our time at the falls was over, but our group departed just as exultantly as we had arrived.

The day ended as it began, with the children singing once again as the vehicles pulled back into the schoolyard, greeting each bus with genuine gratitude and cheer for a safe journey, and the final sentiments were shared through another impromptu pep rally. Today was a day that will not be forgotten! A day that the students were shaped by the generosity of their friends at St. Andrew’s, attuned to the beauty of the natural environment around them and inspired to be stewards. A day of lessons learned at a core level created from learning systems in harmony with life, engaging all of who we are, individually and collectively.