"Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
My name is Thais Aliss. I am a speaker, a mentor, a dreamer, but most notably I am a mother. My beautiful 4-year-old, Lila, has been a light in my life since the moment she was born. Each day I recognize an increasing desire within myself to be better, to be stronger, to be more aware of my wholeness so that I can at least attempt to be the role-model I feel she deserves.
About one year ago, recognizing that Lila was nearing the age that most children here in Mexico start attending school, I began searching for the perfect school for her. I started the endeavor full of enthusiasm and vigor, but with each school tour I became more and more concerned. I simply was not finding anything close to what I was hoping to offer to Lila--a school that would allow her to feel connected with nature, confident about herself and her capacities, and offer her the freedom and support for her to learn whatever interested her. I realized I was looking for more than a traditional school, I was, in fact, looking for a dynamic, wholesome community that would embrace and value all that Lila is and all she will become as she continues forward on her journey through life.
I value traditional academics (ie. reading, writing, math, geography, etc.) as much as any other parent of this day and age; I do, however, simultaneously feel that a "true eduction" would strive to equipe children with skills that allowed them to identify and express their needs and desires, navigate with ease through conflict, regulate their emotions, and empathetically create space for all others to do the same. I want Lila to enter into her adult years with confidence, knowing what her strengths, weaknesses, and passions are, knowing what and/or how she desires to contribute to the community at large. I want Lila to emerge with a clear understanding of who she is, how much value she innately possess (as each and every individual has), and a strong sense of interconnectedness with the world around her. Surely these skills are just as important, if not more so, to the healthy development of a child than their ability to recite all of the primary numbers by heart. Why don't more educational institutions focus on the development of these practical and necessary skill sets?
By identifying what I wanted for Lila, and seeing that the options where limited (if not non-existent), I was able to identify a gap in the Mexican education system. I then began to wonder what it would take to fill that gap, or at least offer another option for parents who weren't satisfied with the current institutions and yet didn't have the ability to consider homeschooling. For many months I felt so much of my energy and focus being directed towards the mental creation of this "new" school when finally I felt ready to begin to materialize this dream school for my daughter. Just a few weeks later (on New Years eve to be exact), because of fate, destiny, or just shear luck, I ended up meeting Alison Johnson. Alison is an American woman who has over a decade of teaching experience with children from diverse backgrounds, a driving-passion for alternative approaches to education, an unyielding devotion to self-development, and a deep love for children, art and nature. Since our first conversation it became clear to me that we are very aligned about what we consider to be a true education for children and, several conversations later, I asked Alison if she was interested in joining me in the building of this new school. I am so thankful that she said, "yes!"
So, what is Humano?
Humano is an alternative community with an educational initiative at its core. Located in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. It provides children a natural and fertile environment where they feel inspired, free and confident to explore and discover their own interests and talents.
We hope to awaken in children a true devotion for nature and life itself through the reconnection with Mother Earth. We strive to achieve this by putting them in direct contact with nature throughout the day (it is after all a school without walls) and by calling reverent awareness to the changing of seasons along with the moon cycles.
The values that Humano seeks to promote are the values of self-awareness, self- responsibility, love, freedom, consciousness, passion, creativity, empathy and service.
We are starting our first school year cycle on the 19th of August 2019. While we plan to offer an educationally rich environment to suit the varied needs of children from 3 - 12 years old, we are choosing to start this first cycle with a small group of 3-6 year olds so that we are more able to help shape the growth of the foundational school culture. Once a sturdy foundation has been established, we will grow organically from there. We feel that this approach will allow the Humano community to grow in a sustainable, meaningful way, with full attention to the diverse needs and desires that each individual and family brings with them.
Once the majority of the children in Humano reach seven years of age, the school will function largely as a democracy. This means that the opinion of a child has the same weight as that of an adult, and so together, in an environment of tolerance and respect, we will tackle all issues/decisions related to the Humano community, because by what other way can we teach them to be responsible citizens in a democratic society if they don't experience it first hand in school?
We both practice and understand how important a daily practice of gratitude and meditation is if we want to live in a state of peace and with more awareness of the present moment, hence we are going to promote those practices within the school, which will allow children to develop their attention and emotional intelligence by being conscious of their own thoughts and emotions.
In order to get our project off to a running start we really need your help. The time is passing by and in the 3 weeks remaining until the first day of school we hope to be able to have most of the following:
- Creative materials: crayons, pencils, watercolors, chalk, paints, fabrics, wooden blocks to build, musical instruments, etc. - Books/resources to build our library - Natural/recycled playground equipment - Floor cushions and mats - A fridge and a stove to prepare and store food - Basic furniture for the dinning area (tables and chairs) - A white screen and a projector so we can have gatherings with the entire community and organize outdoor cultural movie nights - Funds for space maintenance: pouring final concrete slab, cleaning/painting all school walls, fixing palapa rooftops, etc. - Gardening tools and basic cleaning gear (brooms, dumps, rags)
Besides from all of that we need to register as an NGO and that costs money (not only for the registration but also for the permits and licenses to operate that we will need to manage--this process itself can cost up to 3,000 USD).
It is amazing what we have been able to create thus far by pulling together our time, energy and existing resources. We can already see what lies in store for the children of Humano, and for the Playa Del Carmen community at large, once we have access to the financial resources that we so desperately need! So we want to say thank you in advance for your support and trust. We are creating something different, something new and we believe in it vehemently; and because we believe, we know it is possible.