A one-week intensive residency, 7,000 miles, 20 states, and a lifetime of memories

A one-week intensive residency, 7,000 miles, 20 states, and a lifetime of memories
​I just returned from a week-long residency program in Surry, Maine. Call it a residency, call it adult summer camp, or call it a retreat…it was 20+ humane educators (most of us in training)  from around the world coming together for one week for an intensive learning experience. Residency is part of the master’s degree I am earning through the Institute for Humane Education (IHE).  “The Institute for Humane Education believes that education is the key to creating a just, humane, and sustainable world for all people, animals, and the environment,” as stated on their website. We learn about very tough and emotional subjects that revolve around animal protection, human rights, environmental ethics, and how all of it (and us) are connected. The classes I have taken opened my eyes to new issues, defective systems, and new ways of thinking, acting, and educating.  It has deepened and fueled my passion for leaving this world a better place. Something my grandmother started teaching me when I was very young.  
​I am lucky to have my husband in the master’s program with me, and we both attended this year’s residency. To start, we drove from Portland, Oregon to Surry, Maine (with a stop in Portland, Maine of course. We had to say that we drove Portland to Portland!) and back. It was over 7,000 miles and 20 states.  But it was an amazing experience.

Nineteen students attended this year’s residency, most of us having never met one another. IHE is an online program.  We do have virtual sessions in every class and use that as a way to get to know one another. However, it is not like spending a week immersed with everyone. We were 19 strangers on day one and by the end of the week, we left as family.  We built trusting and respectful relationships, relationships that will last even through our distance and differences.

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A wonderful group of humane educators and new members of my extended family. Photo courtesy of Institute for Humane Education.

Throughout the week I learned many things and evolved as an individual, a member of society, and even as a wife. Here are a few takeaways from my week in Maine:

  • How to be in a room with 20+ strangers and embrace our diverse backgrounds, education styles, passions, and dreams
  • How not to just think about a single problem and solution, but to inspect the systems behind the problems and think of ways to cause lasting and sustainable change
  • How to listen more carefully and to understand what is truly being said and asked
  • How hard, and at the same time how easy, it is to role play
  • How important it is to take care of yourself
  • How we all have something to teach each other

And most important…

  • How to take in unsettling and sometimes disturbing information, but know without a doubt that we (I) can make a difference in creating a compassionate, just, and humane world

​VegfulLife exists because of IHE. I am passionate about creating that humane world. I am passionate about education and know that knowledge truly is power. So, thank you for coming on this journey with me and thank you for allowing me to contribute to your journey. On that note, I love this quote by Malala Yousafzai, “Life isn’t just about taking in oxygen and giving out carbon dioxide.” We all have something to give and receive. 

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