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In October, it was my pleasure to be in beautiful Cartagena to celebrate the first in-person Montessori congress held in this country since Covid.
Today I am sharing just a small part of the AMI annual congress in Colombia, South America. There are Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) affiliate societies in 41 countries now. There is more information about these societies at this link:
CLICK HERE: SOCIETIES
From the very beginning the affiliate society of Colombia, FEMCO (Fundación Eco-Educativa Montessori Colombia), has been focused on bringing to all an awareness of the need to protect both the environment and the wisdom of ancient cultures. This was certainly evident at this event.
If you look carefully at the congress logo video above you can see and share the impression of looking up through the roots of the mangrove trees that line the coast of the country, into the sky and to the birds flying above.
Although they cover less than 2% of total ocean area, mangroves, seagrasses, and salt marshes account for half of the carbon stored in oceans due to their ability to draw down atmospheric carbon and trap it for long periods of time. Mangroves sequester up to five times more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than other types of forest. Nevertheless, they are among the world’s most vulnerable subtropical and tropical habitats with global losses already in excess of 50%.
For more information on one of the projects to protect the mangroves of this part of the world I recommend “Cartagena Turtles”
CLICK HERE: MANGROVES
Along with talks about Montessori theory and practice two biologists and one anthropologist shared their passion, humility, and wisdom, both about the flora and fauna of the country and the hope for humanity to learn from the wisdom of the elders. It was my great honor to share several meals with these men and bask in their knowledge.
Another very special aspect of this congress was the attendance of a 100+ year old leader of the Kogui people who live high in the Santa Marta Snowy Mountain Range. He and two younger men and their translator walked eight days to share their wisdom with us, their first time down the mountain. The Kogui population is about 10,000 people. They consider the earth the Great Mother and humans as her children. Each group in the community satisfies food needs for the rest of the group, working together to create a balanced society that is in touch with, and cares for, the natural world.
It was wonderful to see old friends and make new ones, teachers and speakers from the USA, Mexico, Colombia, the Netherlands, Italy, and Puerto Rico, Costa Rica and other countries.
My own message focused on Montessori’s discovery that we all have within us a natural compassion for others and desire to be helpful – an inborn instinct is observed daily in authentic Montessori schools (where the training of teachers is a priority over materials and buildings) where one is allowed uninterrupted periods of deep concentration on an activity appropriate to the stage of development. It is our job as Montessori parents and teachers to be sure that there are always opportunities, activities, available that provide ways for children, and adults, to be helpful to others and to the planet.
It might be possible to see, in the picture above, a little girl in an AMI Infant Community in Sweden baking break for her classmates. And on the right, a follow-up Q & A with by friend and translator (and head of the AMI affiliate for Colombia) Lyda Franky, Eder Cuevas (head of the AMI affiliate for Mexico), and AMI 3-6 trainer Eduardo Cuevas.
There will be a detailed report of this congress posted later as the annual AMI affiliate report at the above link to AMI affiliate societies.
Colombia is rich in dance traditions, and each area, from the mountains, the coast, the valleys, the cities, and the villages have their own dance. Above is one of the more elegant examples, and below a wild abandon of one of the dancers following the drummers and his own inner song.
Three of us speakers have also published books about Montessori. Angeline Lillard has published a third edition of her vital research on Montessori outcomes, Montessori, the Science Behind the Genius; Erica Moretti has published her research on the humanitarian focus of Montessori’s work from the beginning in The Best Weapon for Peace; my book Montessori and Mindfulness was the basis for my talk, and contains a chapter by Dr. Lillard.
Wherever in the world this Montessori work takes me I am astounded by the variety and beauty of art, and my own work is enriched upon return. Here I saw both traditional and modern art, on the walls of restaurants and hotels, of the quality for any art museum back at home.
From Cartagena I flew to Lima, Peru. This was my fifth time working there and I hope to be able to add a blog post just about this trip. In the meantime, here is a link to the blog posts from previous trips:
The above painting of a llama at the ancient Inca ruins, Machu Picchu, was inspired by my own experience there. It was a special time; due to two strikes there were very few tourists at the site the day I arrived. It was easy to feel that one had traveled back in time. I could feel the spirits of the Inca and his Coya (his wife), and also of the common people, and in the spirit of one of my favorite artists, Marc Chagall, I featured them in the painting.
Hopefully in the new year I will stay home long enough to add paintings like this to my art site. In the meantime, you can see what is available now, and add your name to the list to be notified of new art.
CLICK: SUSAN’S ART
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