Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Imagine…

A Lennon with a different spelling than the one pictured here asked us to do just that – Imagine.

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One thing that Sara and I couldn’t ever have imagined ten years ago was that we would be bopping around the globe spreading poetry as a literacy tool as our way of keeping our dog’s food bowls full. We are just back from our second trip to Kazakhstan – we could hardly believe that we would ever go there in the first place – much less a second time. But there we were on the windblown steppe home of yurts and borscht.

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Sara and I feel so lucky to be working in the International School world. It’s comparable to one giant district with folks moving around the globe like backgammon pieces hopping back and forth. We’ve worked with the same educators in multiple venues thousands of miles apart, manifold time and temperate zones, schools big and small.

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The international educators community is a subculture unto its own – comprised of people with a little adventure in their DNA – a trait that Sara and I share. Within this subculture are subsets of differing interests and avocations that overlap here and there slicing into almond slivers of varying thickness ala Venn diagrams. You’ve got your tech folks, your music folks, your zombie aficionados, your arts folks and my personal favorite – your bicycle folks.

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It has been my pleasure to hook up with riders across the planet riding in jungles, through city streets, on elevated paths over rice fields, through bleak Chinese industrial wastelands, amongst thatched hut African villages, through mud thick and heavy as wood putty and coasting downhill from the top of a volcano.

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Most recently in Atyrau Kazakhstan I had the opportunity to ride with my buddy Brent Fullerton who I first met in the rain forests of Borneo where he and his clan of mountain bikers - the mud hogs -attempted to grind me into the humid rich tropical soil. Well here we attacked the thick mudded Kazakh steppe and the paved and dirt pathways around the Ural River. Brent is the tech coordinator and jack of all trades teacher at the Dostyk International School, a boutique sized school for Chevron employees’ kids where teachers wear many hats. (Brent is also a lunatic – a mountain climber – trekker – and all around adventurer/explorer.)

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We went out on the bike twice while I was visiting – once to the bleak and gray industrial edge of the steppe where wheel stopping mud turned us back and then again on a group ride called in commemoration of one of the members moving away from KZ.

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In this group were mixed folks from the school, Chevron and from Shell. Dutch, Irish, Canadian, Americans and Australians a veritable hodgepodge whose overlap in this case was cycling. I was informed that the two camps, Chevron and Shell rarely if ever mixed – except in tis cycling group. As we toasted the man of honor while having breakfast at a riverside pub I was grateful for the camaraderie that a couple of pedal powered wheels were able to provide. This little spandex dressed subculture that cut across corporate loyalties and personal politics was my entryway into a sense of belonging half a globe away from my home.

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Imagine that.

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