Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Shadle teaches his way around the world

By Michael Tidemann - Staff Writer
July 28, 2009

Wouldn't it be great to teach innovative college classes to students from around the country?

Wouldn't it be great to take a four-month cruise around the world?
Wouldn't it be great to do both at the same time?

That's exactly what Mark Shadle, Estherville High School class of 1967, did this past spring.

Shadle, who received his bachelor's in political science from Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colo., and both his master's and Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Iowa Department of English, participated the four-month teaching tour with the Semester at Sea program this spring. The program is administered by the University of Virginia and the Institute for Shipboard Education, both based in Charlottesville.

Shadle, who was on sabbatical for the past year from his teaching duties at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, incidentally took part in the 100th voyage of the Semester at Sea program.

Shadle and the rest of the faculty boarded at Miami and then at Nassau, Bahamas, picked up 740 students from 200 colleges. From there they went to Cadiz, Spain. They averted the Suez Canal due to continued threats by Somalian pirates and instead went to Casablanca, Namibia, Capetown, South Africa, Port Louis, Mauritius, and Chennai, India. From there it was on to Bangkok, Thailand, Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) Vietnam, a flight to Phon Penh, Cambodia, then they sailed to Hong Kong then Shang Hai. They hit two ports in Japan - Kobe and Yokohama, then went on the Honolulu then to Puerto Cuetzal, Guatemala then the Panama Canal then on through the Gulf of Mexico to Florida - a total of 12 ports of call.

Shadle estimates the cruise was well beyond the 25,000 circumference of the earth. They departed Jan. 17 and arrived back in port May 5.

Shadle taught fiction writing, media studies, media studies and 'nomadology' or the study of migrating peoples.

One of the more memorable venues was the killing fields of Cambodia where Shadle said it was common to find human bones protruding from paths. He and his students also found meaningful the atomic bomb museum in Hiroshima.

In Hawaii they met with Shadle's friends Glenn and Glenda Paige of the Global Nonviolence Institute. That was a highlight for Shadle, since much of his teaching was directed toward that visit.

Shadle said the most rewarding part of the cruise was seeing how people around the world live. He also enjoyed participating in community service projects with students.
Shadle recalls fondly making mandalas with children in Rangoli, India, and playing music with other children in another school in India.

"Music and art seemed to cut through all resistance," Shadle said.

In Spain, he helped students rediscover the flamenco music culture, something that's unfortunately vanishing as a cultural icon on the Iberian Peninsula. That was something that came natural for Shadle who plays jazz and blues as well as flamenco guitar.

He cherishes memories of hearing a girls choir in Namibia where 45 percent of the children are AIDS orphans.

Shadle hopes to make the trip again, and he would like to organize a trip in 2011 around the theme of shelter.

"This voyage for me was a transformance, not a performance," Shadle said. "I believe if half of the people in this country went to China or India for two weeks their attitudes would change overnight. You transform whatever intolerance you leave here with."

No comments: