Lainie Liberti, a mom and recovering branding expert (whose 18 year career once focused on creating campaigns for green – eco businesses, non-profits and conscious businesses) and her now 18-year-old son Miro Siegel, set out 8 years ago on what became a life changing journey. In 2008, California’s economy took a turn causing the closure of many local businesses. Lainie and then 9-year-old Miro decided to “be the change” instead of victims as the pair began the process of redesigning their lives, with the dream of spending stress-free quality time together. After closing her business, selling and giving away all of their possessions, Lainie and Miro hit the road for what was to be a one year adventure mid-2009.
Eight years, twenty-four countries (and many personal changes) later, Lainie and Miro continue to slow travel around the globe, living an inspired possession-free-lifestyle, volunteering and learning naturally from the world around them. The pair are following their interests and learning in partnership as the planet has been transformed into the ultimate classroom. Both Lainie and Miro have been forever changed, inspired by diverse cultures, histories, languages and traditions, often encouraging the pair to examine their own humanity and interconnectedness. Often you will hear Lainie say “we are blessed to be accidental unschoolers.” Lainie and Miro have become advocates for life learning at any age, combined with travel. They call it “worldschooling.”
In 2011, the mother and son duo co-founded Project World School in hopes of bringing this experience to others. Project World School was born from an inspired idea: co-create temporary learning communities around the world with teens and young adults, in order to collaborate in rich experiential and social learning. During the retreats, both natural and academic learning occurs through immersive cultural experiences while encouraging social learning, teamwork and leadership. Participants create strong connections with other participants, the world around them and community through a rich collaborative environment. Teens who participate are inspired to continue their worldschooling explorations (and most return for other retreats).
When not co-facilitating retreats with her son, Lainie can be found hosting conversations about alternative education on her weekly show For the Love of Learning, Voices of the Alternative Education Movement. Currently with almost a hundred shows in the archives, she credits her insatiable curiosity about everything everywhere and is happy to have a forum to ask questions about learning and education.
Lainie and Miro also share stories about worldschooling and travel at the their blog, and you can watch their TEDxAmsterdamED talk here.
Miro Siegel is an 18 year old traveler and youth facilitator for Project World School. His learning is self directed and influenced by the ever changing world around him. To him, this is Worldschooling. He is interested in, and is an advocate for children’s rights, travel as education and a spearhead of the Worldschooling movement that he and his mother helped create. Miro Siegel traveled to Amsterdam in April, 2016 to present at the TEDxAmsterdamED conference and to bring a slightly more ‘unconventional’ view to the table. He aspires to bring cultural awareness and immersion to more people, because he truly believes that travel can bring peace to the world and inspire learning without measure.
Co-Facilitator, Writer & Researcher
Hi I’m Katie, and I have been on a quest to honour children in education ever since being a child myself growing up in London, England. Little did I know that my interest in child development would take me to jungles, mountains and desert to live and learn from indigenous communities! The story starts properly when I travelled extensively around East Africa when I was 19. Before this I had been a teaching assistant in different schools, worked in a psychiatric hospital, volunteered with inner city kids, and started my degree in Child Psychology. Despite feeling that in many ways my education was fantastic, I did return from Africa disillusioned by many aspects of Western culture, and questioned the appropriateness of the Western style of education in some of the villages I visited. I felt that it missed vital aspects of the traditional ways of life that kept communities connected. With these experiences, my curiosity only grew: after my degree, I then studied towards a PhD in the philosophy and sociology of diagnosis of mental health difficulties for teenagers in the West, where I interviewed young people, parents, teachers and clinicians about their experiences of diagnosis at The Maudsley and Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. During this time, I was also a Youth Ambassador for UNICEF. In my spare time, I studied nutrition through collaborating with organic farms, I ran and cycled long-distance, gained a personal training qualification, sat at meditation retreats and practiced yoga. I also co-ran and set up a still successful youth club for young people that felt they were not being served by the mainstream mental health services on offer. The club offers a holistic approach which involves bush-craft, drama, music, nutrition, art and exercise within a therapeutic context in a way that supports individual choice. During this time I had become increasingly frustrated with the entire system of education and mental health services for children in the West. I explored the corruption within the pharmaceutical industry, the poor nutritional value of food, the undervaluing of the arts and exercise, the over-valuing of intellect and competition over compassion and teamwork. I reached a point in my academic life and experiences where key questions such as what does it mean to educate a child? What is teen mental health? How can we teach age-appropriately? How can we provide a heart-centred, sustainable education? How can we incorporate movement and nutrition to enable children to function at our human capacity? What ARE the indigenous wisdoms and how can we incorporate them into education, so that we can facilitate and empower young people to be connected to their own indigenous nature, in their own natural environment? These questions propelled me to travel to completely different cultures: to connect with people who saw education differently. I travelled to Thailand, Canada, Peru, Israel and the USA. When I returned to the UK, I worked for a charity that provides week-long residential retreats in the outdoors for inner city young people. As soon as I heard about Project World School, I knew that my thoughts were already a reality. We are now in an extremely exciting time, where technology is available to share and learn from other cultures. We can learn so much from communities that support children within the context of their natural environment. I feel that education is a way that all of us can be re-connected with our own original indigenous nature. I see an education where we learn from our elders, where there is not such a strong dichotomy between child and adult, where children are empowered to identify and recognize the value of food that grows in their local area, where they are self-aware enough to maintain their own health and happiness with the guidance of others. Assisting, empowering, protecting and inspiring children by nurturing self-esteem, wellness, love and creativity is a major step towards creating a more peaceful planet.
Originally from Stony Brook, NY, Michael has been residing in Thailand for 13 years. Before moving to Thailand, he worked a diverse range of jobs in experiential education and with troubled youth (i.e group home counselor, environmental education, Wilderness Instructor etc.). Though he received his teaching degree from University of Colorado at Boulder, he realized that his true passion was in experiential education and self-directed learning experiences.
His passions are rock climbing, guitar, and the MIndful movement arts (Tai Chi, Chi Kung, Meditation), sunsets at the beach and spending time with his two children, Zak and Sara.
Michael has been coordinating custom-designed adventure and cultural holidays in the Krabi province of Thailand for more than 10 years now.
As well, he has been the coordinator and head instructor of the St. George’s University School of Medicine Integrative Medical Therapies Thailand Selective for 10 years with more than 500 medical students attending.
Lorene Rozier’s passion for hiking started as a kid roaming the Swiss Alps with her family. She spent 5 years in New York as a researcher in biology while hiking some of the trails in the northeast in her free time and discovering rock climbing, with the Gunks becoming her second home.
Lorene decided to take some time off to travel and discover South America. She has been traveling for 1 and a half years through Ecuador and Peru. She has hiked (among others) the Quilotoa Loop and the Ecuadorian Inca Trail, explored numerous trails in the Cordillera Blanca and Negra near Huaraz in Peru.
Lorene has worked for a climbing refuge in the Andes, rock-climbed near Huaraz and climbed several mountains over 5000m (Vallunaraju, Yanapaccha, Urus, Ishinca, Huarapasca). She has hiked solo the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu and did other day hikes in the Sacred Valley in Cusco.
Writer & Researcher
Ellen Rowland writes about culture, family, things that are good for the planet and life without school. A lover of all things edible, she can usually be found in the kitchen when she’s not writing or creatively encouraging her children’s interests. She is the author of the book “Everything I Thought I Knew: An Exploration of Life and Learning” to be released in June 2017. She and her family currently live on a really tiny island in Greece. Follow her at amuddylife.com