GUEST \\ Kaitlyn O’Connor

This month guest entry : Kaitlyn O'Connor


Kiss The Earth That Birth You

About me: My name is Kaitlyn O’Connor, my current mission and addiction is to empower the youth and inspire others to create more consciousness about the health of our planet and oceans. I have been traveling the past two years teaching English from different communities and countries such as Costa Rica, Nepal, South Africa, New York and now currently have been living and teaching in the beautiful Caribbean of Mexico.

Living by the ocean, I can definitely say it has made me more aware of the lifestyle I lead. Some however do not live by the ocean or have ever even seen the ocean. There are so few who have realised how the ocean is in trouble and how it is something so very important that we should be talking about.

Seeing plastic beyond plastic wash upon the beautiful shores of Tulum, to meeting locals who struggle within the community which leave them with the only option to burn there garbage, to seeing the destruction of the jungles day by day do to a high demand of tourism. I know these experiences are placed in front of me to help to create change.

I work currently with Tulum International School which is an independent start up school where we have children from all different backgrounds. The curriculum or units of inquiry derive from passion and purpose. The school is unique in so many ways, truly wanting to foster each child’s individual needs and desires. With the setting in the jungle the school is truly able to embody nature, the natural components and the animals that surround them.

Talking about climate change in the classroom: This year my role at the school as one of the English teachers my role is driven to focus on science, the ocean and global awareness. Starting off the year with just a brief overview, I’ve been focusing on important figures like Carl Sagan, and the beginning of existence as quoted by Sagan “We come from star stuff,” I really wanted to connect with the students and really build a foundation for where we have come from to where we are currently today.

How important it is to understand our connection with the moon, the sun and the rest of space. Jumping then to figures like Charles Darwin, Jane Goodall to Sylvia Earle. I really wanted to pick influential figures from all walks of life to really open the children’s eyes that there are so many different types of people who have made and are making a huge contribution to society.

As having children aged as young from 4-11 years old, getting this information across to them of course is a huge challenge. How do I get them to care?

I wake up every morning hoping just to connect a little more then the day before. As the books for my class are made from recycled paper entitled “Class of the Earth”, it feels my heart every time I see them, but at the same time I ask myself am I really getting through to them?

They are so full of life, so young, so curious.

Children learn through play. They connect with nature so much, sometimes their attention could be focused more on watching a butterfly fly in the jungle which of course sparks more interest in them then the warming of our oceans and the importance of coral reefs at times. With this, they are always my teachers as well, they are the ones who are completely full in present awareness, not worried about things to come but just life for as it beautifully is.

In some of the older classes ages 10-12, it has been a very different of how they have reacted to certain issues we have talked about. I had one student tell me “It is our fault, us stupid humans have done all of this damage, they are killing all the animals when they have done nothing to us at all.”

The topics we have been talking about are to create awareness in them and inspire them but yet some of their replies are “The world is over, we’ve done so much damage already.” This really awoke something in me and made me realise how conscious these children are, as some may call them the “star children” in which they are those in whom are known to embody the energy of grace, purity, truth and wisdom.

They keep me so humble.

As most of us who are up to date on climate change and the warming of our oceans know that this is such a serious topic, how do we pass this information on to our young ones and keep their inspiration alive when they already they know the destruction that has been done? I can teach them about all these important figures and build this foundation, but how do we keep the hope alive?

It really is through every single action and vibration we make, through what we consume and what we pay attention to is how to raise our vibration. I ask myself every single day if what I am doing is enough, am I doing enough to better this planet and educating others of how to do better as well. It is about creating awareness about all these different issues and bringing more attention to our planet and oceans, but it is as well as the acts of kindness that we participate in and our vibration we send out.

I try as often as I can to bring different mantras and breathing activities, to giving back to our community.

Introducing the ideas of random acts of kindness and paying it forward, doing something “just because.” This past weekend was Black Friday and Cyber Monday, in which we talked about in one of the older classes, of why is there such popularity in the U.S about these things. Then I introduced them to the new movement that has been happening of Giving Tuesday.

This is where we build the hope.

Here in the Caribbean in Tulum there is artist Oliva Steele who has started a movement of “Public Display of Awareness”, where all over she has put different signs some such read as “If not now, when”…”Embrace The Mystery”, “Observe your Distractions, Observe your Intentions.” I had some of the children create their own signs and the results were absolutely breathtaking.

This in return again has taught me so much, sometimes I want to get all of this information across to them but then I sit back and I give them the independence and creativity to do something that they can express themselves completely in. Every time it blows my mind. As much as our oceans need our attention, as does our planet, our children need our attention to let themselves express themselves independently and creatively.

When you give children something positive to focus on and give them the freedom to create it on their own, it is absolutely magic. We all need compassion and empathy within us, we all have it, sometimes we just loose touch with it, as we get older. That is why I think why our oceans and planet looks like it does, because we either just one didn’t know enough, or two just never cared enough.

We will never be able to take better care of our planet if we never connect ourselves and our children with these components such as compassion and empathy. We need to be fully conscious of our words and vibrations that we put out as well. For this generation to the next, Generation Future, I hope my words have inspired you to give it to the next person you encounter, stranger, family member, child, or to even just yourself.