Around CampusBush News

Passion Fuels the Courage to Make a Difference

A goal for part of the Cascades Program—The Bush School’s signature Upper School program that provides three-week immersive experiences—that was years in the making finally came to fruition in the spring of 2022. A group of nine students, along with two Bush faculty members, traveled to Savannah, Georgia, for ten days to engage in a unique opportunity partnering with the Nobis Project to focus on the themes of race, slavery, preservation of culture, and Black land ownership in Savannah and the surrounding coastal islands.
 The Nobis Project—a nonprofit that aims to immerse educators and students within communities in order to explore the under-told stories of the local history, culture, people, and environment—started engaging with Bush years ago with the intent for Bush to become one of the first schools to form a partnership. 
“Kristin McInaney, Bush’s Experiential Education Program Manager, contacted me and she really liked what we were doing,” said Nobis Project Executive Director Christen Clougherty. 
Kristin and Upper School History Teacher Susanne Eckert had mapped out plans for Bush to travel in 2020 to Savannah, but due to the pandemic everything was put on hold. Fast-forward two years and last May, the planning and preparation finally took flight. 
“I wanted to not only participate in the opportunity to become closer with my peers, but also make the effort to create change in a community,” Yahya A. ’24 said. “Helping the Gullah-Geechee people seemed like an effective way to fulfill both my goals.”
For the students, this was an opportunity to step beyond the city of Seattle and courageously show vulnerability and willingness to immerse themselves in a new environment. 
“I think [one of the goals] was taking a deeper look at what a lot of the conversations around social justice are now, specifically the lens of this place, this land, what does the land mean, the culture and language, and how does that change over the years,” said Bush Upper School Science Teacher Luke Dauner, who was the other faculty leader along with Susanne. “Students brought their own experience to it and their own backgrounds.”
While Nobis built out an itinerary for Bush, Susanne and Luke were able to have a voice of what they wanted the students to experience and take away. One of the connected themes through Nobis and Bush was the idea of place-based learning and the power of relationships and community. 
“Beyond the skeleton schedule and curriculum, the relationships were the really important aspect of going through this,” Luke said. “For the students to get to know these people, there were so many positive experiences.”
Susanne and Luke said they focused a lot on environmental issues and farming, with the idea of making an impact and giving back in a way that was intentional. For a few of the days the  group helped farmers on Sapelo Island with specific needs for their farm. Susanne said the group spent time interviewing the farmers, figuring out the needs, and determining the best way to help. Both Luke and Susanne explained they hope to see the work the students started continue with the next Cascade group. 
“I think the work we did with some of the farmers on Sapelo Island helped students feel a sense of empowerment. They really connected with the work they were trying to do to preserve land,” Susanne said.
“It opened my eyes to the hard work that goes into daily parts of our lives, such as eating produce,” Yahya said. “As most humans would, for some reason I came into the Cascade thinking we were going to make lasting changes together and by the end of the three weeks we would look back on it and smile at the positive effects it had. Once Cascades ended I learned a valuable lesson: ‘change takes time.’ I shouldn’t have expected that all problems would be solved by our sudden appearance, and I realized that in order for lasting change to be made, there must be constant effort from the community.”
Christen of the Nobis Project said one of the best parts was watching students from different parts of countries and different identity backgrounds come together and watching what things land with them.
“Before this trip, I always thought I was someone who never raised my hand in class or spoke up when I wasn’t called on,” Yahya said. “But after this Cascade and as I progressed through high school, I learned that it was because I never felt any passion toward what I was doing. In this Cascade, we all felt a profound will to make an impact wherever we could, and that was our courage.”
The Bush School is an independent, coeducational day school located in Seattle, WA enrolling 715 students in grades K–12. The mission of The Bush School is to spark in students of diverse backgrounds and talents a passion for learning, accomplishment, and contribution to their communities.

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