Today I decided to unleash my inner geographer. With a little help from Mission:Explore, the partner for this year’s Geography Awareness Week program, I embarked on a mission to discover the geography of my community. Mission: Explore offers more than 20 imaginative missions that Geography Awareness Week explorers can complete to earn badges in the categories of mapping, storytelling, photography, and taking action.
I chose the mission “Furthest and Closest” which highlights the multidimensional nature of geography. The Mission: Speak to five people in a public place. Who is furthest from you and who is closest to you in terms of: where they live, their age, or their opinions on something that’s important to you? The mission challenges each explorer to step just outside of his or her comfort zone to reconsider the space, place, and relative relationships between people. The idea is that you can be close to someone in one dimension who is very far away in another (e.g. similar ages but born across the country), and you can also feel distant from someone sitting right next to you. With this concept in mind, I outlined three dimensions: hometown, age, and most interesting/coolest/exciting life moment, as my tools of geographic measurement. With my strategy in line, it was time to hit the streets!
…roughly twenty minutes later, I had been on a trip through six unique set of circumstances and life experiences. When I put myself in the center (and in bold on my chart), I found a difference of: 40 years of age, 1,500 miles of space, and a contrasting set of life experiences ranging from sexual orientation, to religious affiliation, to work opportunity, to differences in family life. Through six quick interviews, the only common factor I shared with my survey group was that I had also gone skydiving! Through this experience, I found that even though people may share space, they each have their own story, experiences, and outlook on life. The “furthest and closest” mission was fun, thought-provoking and interactive; it gave me pause to appreciate the diversity of my community. If you want to complete this mission, or one like it, check out the Mission:Explore website to discover the “The Adventure in Your Community” this Geography Awareness Week. Also, “like” us on Facebook to share your photos, stories, and events from Geography Awareness Week 2011!
Questions, comments or concerns? E-mail us at: NatGeoEd@ngs.org
–Julia from My Wonderful World