Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Our First Blog: Editor's Note, May 2009

There is a glimpse of summer in the air. Green grass, tree blossoms and wildflowers tell us that summer is on its way!

If you are like most kids, you are looking forward to summer because you love free time without school pressures. Your family is probably making summer plans. What do you plan to do during the

 long vacation?  

Summer camps, backpacking and hiking, beach trips, softball, picnics, horseback riding, sleep-overs, language or music classes, library visits, storytelling...there are dozens of summer activities to choose from. Sometimes, summer vacation includes a trip, near or far.

Surely, travel is a wonderful way to experience life and to broaden our perspectives. If your plans call for going to a new place this summer, here are some ways to make it a memorable learning experience.

* Advance Preparations. Before you go on your adventure, investigate and prepare. Find out what the place is like, what it’s known for, its history, natural treasures, cultural offerings, climate and weather. Pack your bags to suit your planned activities and the expected weather.

* Overseas trips need more preparations; so plan ahead. If you are visiting a different region or a country, you may get information via books, the Internet and friends who come from or who have been there. If they speak another language, begin learning their language, or at least some words and phrases. A variety of language tapes and instructions are available at libraries. When you are there, immerse yourself in the culture and language.

* There is much more to a place than what those glossy brochures tell us. Make sure you don’t get stuck in tourist traps. Explore the surrounding areas and culture wherever you go. Walk, hike, bike, ride buses and discover the region. Visit local eateries rather than the few chain restaurants and fast food joints you may be comfortable with. Try local specialities and recipes rather than your regular favorites.

Books offer another way to travel without leaving the comfort of your home. They let our imagination do the traveling. Each year, our summer issue recommends the best multicultural and nature books. Pages 30-34 share with you our 2009 selection of these outstanding books.

In this issue, we also feature many accounts of summer activities and travels. You can visit the Great Wall of China, Barcelona, Cappadocia in Turkey, Northern Ireland, and even climb Mount Killimanjaro with Nana Jean. If you’d  like more reading material, you can order a few back issues of Skipping Stones for a 25% discount this summer! 

Summer is for learning by doing (and having fun), for appreciating nature and for letting the great outdoors be our teacher. You might like to get your hands dirty in your backyard garden along with your family or volunteer in a community garden. My favorite summer weekend activities include spending a few hours at a youth garden, storytelling gatherings and potlucks with neighbors and friends. 

I fondly remember the long, morning walks we took every day during our summer vacations in India. You might think we were crazy because we’d get up around 5 a.m. just for our morning walks! We’d be home by 7 a.m., before the hustle and bustle began on the city streets. That way, we were able to appreciate the fresh morning air, cool dew-wet grass in the city parks, song birds, and at times, even some ripe, tropical fruits straight from the trees!

As your magazine, we always encourage submissions of art and writing and your creative entries for the Youth Honor Awards (due June 25). On the next page, you will find cool, practical advice for young poets from our poet in-residence, Katherine. 

Enjoy the warmth of friends, family and nature!

-Arun Toke

1 comment:

  1. I found your article A Vegetarian Diet is Good for the Plant, May-August 2009 completely irresponsible. It was full of misinformation. It was obvious that the author wrote from an emotional perspective and did not do her research on nutrition. The issue should have been how the food industry has perverted nature in it's production of unhealthy meat products. A properly cared for animal is not an unhealthy food source. The ethics of vegetarianism, are based on emotion and a desire to be disconnected form where our food really comes from. Where are all these supplements, that are produced in the bodies of animals, not vegetables, coming from? A better topic would have been how eating locally is good for the planet. An awful lot of fuel is burned to produce and bring tofu to our grocery stores. Let's not pass popular tripe on to our children and say that it's science.