Saturday, May 16, 2009

Of pirates and mentoring

Sometime ago Brian Lockwood, educator and IT director at an international school in Yokohama Japan, tweeted a link to an absolutely fantastic TED Talk video from Dave Eggers called Once Upon a School.

Dave created 826 Valencia, a combination publishing house, tutoring center and pirate supply shop (it's hard to explain - you kinda gotta watch the video). The program pairs volunteering writers with the students, providing them support and important 1-on-1 attention. 826 Valencia was spawned other similar organization throughout the county that work on the same model, crazy retail outlet in front, tutoring in back. This includes 826 Seattle and the Greenwood Space Travel Supply company.

Truth be told, I am a complete sucker for stories of the small contributions, the selfless little acts that are soon forgotten by all except the contributor and the recipient. The video highlights the huge difference that hundreds of little differences can make for a team, community, city, state or nation.

So what have you done lately? Dave Eggers closed his presentation with a hope that many more of us would volunteer and share that experience. To that end the Once Upon a School web site was created. You can read the stories of others, share your own or look for volunteer opportunities in your area. Check it out.

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