Open Shores English is officially celebrating its second Solar New Year with the world and I just wanted to take this time to sincerely thank those of you who are still reading the newsletters, the updates, the latest opportunities to join our e-community, and for your support in the conversations that transcend the boundaries of language, culture, race, class, and the many man-made divides among our brothers and sisters, to find common ground for progress in our global battle against the climate crisis.
Just a quick recommendation that certainly no one has to follow: Don't set off fireworks unless you think it's a good idea to be breathing that nonsense in. It scares the dogs and we can the display a million times over on YouTube now. We have to let some traditions die.
Ending the year with the COP28 may not have been hopeful from the outside looking in, but we have insider information that there is in fact, still hope.
And our failure to commit to the phasing out of fossil fuels politically doesn’t mean we* the people can’t still change our fate.
Sometimes, quite simply, it’s better to accentuate the positives.
Part of the reason I started this community last year was because I myself lacked a community in which I felt a sense of purpose and positivity.
I was a teacher looking for hope.
And slowly but surely, I found that community among the sustainability educators; and then the professionals in engineering, the entrepreneurs and small business owners, the supply chain specialists and procurement officers- who made me realize the many layers of- and opportunities provided by- teaching and supporting English language learning.
And as we wrap up the year, it is with joy that I share the many layers of Open Shores English.
Before that, though, I want to take the time to thank the people without the year would have been just another turn around the sun.
First and foremost, I thank the three women who gave me their time in September to share their experience, insight, and wisdom for our second annual September Interviews-
Iqbal Hamad, Lucila Martelli, and Selma Bichbich.
I also want to thank...
Efrain Diaz for helping me see me that when we hold ourselves accountable and offer our support to others, we have no other choice than to fulfill our commitments and ultimately, our dream of serving our community.
Pragna Nidumolu of Ecoteens.org for the humbling opportunity to speak at Ecoteens' Global Youth Sustainability Summit among other sustainability professionals on the panel for environmental advocacy earlier this month.
Jules Shengo and Josh Wesley for showing me what work educators are doing to give a second chance to the people in the most adverse of circumstances.
James Lui for showing me solution to the challenges a teacher much face on the path to entrepreneurial success.
Rosario G. S. (“Charo”) for always believing in me and attesting to my skills as a classroom teacher.
N.W. and Jose M. G. for giving me real, valuable feedback that brought me the confidence I needed in my programs and support.
My sister and my parents for taking turns caring for me in May when I went ride-or-die on Open Shores English after months of misdirection.
All of the participants of our monthly group sessions, and especially Leandro for his presentation on sustainable drinking water solutions (and Iqbal’s answering of our questions on youth engagement in our last session this past week!)
So what happened in 2023?
In January, we started releasing the overview of various lessons from the beginner-level general English program that was put together for Open Shores English’s first adult client.
Up until that point, I’d been using Nat Geo Learning’s Our World curriculum for the kids I was instructing in China, but I’d realized then that it was time to start developing OSE’s English for Earth curriculum.
Spring passed quickly and our free group conversation sessions went on hold while I furthered my professional development, but in May, we brought the free sessions back- this time, for the SDG supporters and sustainability professionals.
By the end of summer, we had 25+ people signing up for each session and participation was incredible. We decided to continue holding the free sessions until the end of the year.
In September, during OSE’s second annual September interviews, the group program (English for Earth’s Coffee Chats) started taking shape for level B1 and above.
The big promise?
Participants are equipped with the tools they need to successfully lead the discussion OR present on the topic of their choosing in at least* one chat session (30 minutes, 15 minutes for Q&A/final thoughts).
Includes six (6) 45-minute chat sessions per program (first three weeks of every month, times negotiable in exclusive support group)
Written support provided for chat facilitators/presenters
Small video/audio tasks assigned weekly
Feedback based on chat discussion/task completion provided on weekends
Group meeting times changed upon unanimous agreement, please request all times available for January by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
By October, several people had been in contact about the group program but I learned the hard way the logistics that needed to be ironed out (yes, I feel compelled share the failures as well, since there are lessons to be learned).
I decided that in the new year, we’d only hold twice-weekly live sessions for 45 minutes via Zoom (as opposed to three for 30 minutes).
To give people a better idea of the commitment* required for the 3-week long program, I started giving away a 7-day communication challenge for free to anyone who was ready to revolutionize their language-learning practice. The feedback from those who successfully completed the challenge was phenomenal.
However, in November, I’d finally started back up again in a language assistants’ program with the Spanish Ministry of Education in the Spanish public schools and I spent more time on materials to prepare lower level (as in absolute beginner) learners in making basic conversation about the natural world and our connection to it. OSE’s social media engagement dropped during this time but there was so much support coming from my co-workers at the school that I started putting more of my energy into YouTubing for the kids.
I also started working on our brand-new 30-day Transformation, a program for taking practical steps to better organizing and investing our time, money, and energy, to manifest tangible benefits in our health, wealth, and relationship with the planet.
Through conversation, group support, and guidance through self-reflection addressing the following:
1. Attaining a “Work-Life Balance”
2. Hard Times and Mental Health
3. Social Media Addiction and a Lack of Relationships worth Nurturing
4. [Sanely] Staying Informed
5. Spiritual Revival
6. Alcohol and Substance use
7. Responsible Consumption
8. “Free” Time (and why the most valuable things really are free)
9. Mastering the Basics of Feeding Ourselves! And supporting Local Business
10. Community Engagement Our WAY( Because WE are a part of the community and WE have something unique to offer)
I wanted to offer this program to my compatriots to give them a chance to join the community we’re building and to get some global perspective on the meaning of “sustainability”.
To wrap up the year, after the honor of speaking at EcoTeens' Global Youth Sustainability Summit as a panelist for environmental advocacy at the start of the month, in December I tried revamping the social media engagement and announced a friendly competition taking place on Instagram for those who want to join us in the new year at absolutely no cost. I thought this last giveaway was a good way to give away the last of the freebies that went unclaimed throughout the year and the news is out:
Congratulations to Nikos V. for winning FIRST PLACE!
Though our last free group session took place this Wednesday (check out the Live stream recording on any of our social media channels), we have so much in store for 2024.
One of our biggest goals for the year is greater consistency across all of our platforms, and we're pairing up with Pragna of EcoTeens in the new year for even more serious commitments to our young leaders around the globe, so please remember to check in often and keep the likes, comments, and questions coming!
Stay in touch and celebrate big! We’ve even bigger dreams to chase in the next turn around the sun