True Colours

        So just over a week ago Ecuador was hit by a massive earthquake that completely devastated many communities on the coast. Thousands and thousands of families have been deeply and tremendously impacted by this event, including members of our own school community here at Academia Cotopaxi, and it’s been a trying and emotional week for our country to say the least. All of Ecuador has spent the past week doing everything in their collective power to find ways to support the families in need, and international relief efforts have been in full swing…but there is still so much left to do before we can even think about rebuilding what has been lost.
        Despite the obvious sadness and strong feelings of helplessness that many of us are experiencing, I have found myself being incredibly inspired by the outpouring of support, and the coordinated relief efforts that have been happening all around me. It’s been amazing to see the country, as well as our school community rally around each other, and spring into action in every possible way. It got me thinking about how often times in the face of tragedy a community’s true colours are revealed, and how the best of who we are as a group bubbles up for all to see.
        Yesterday, Academia Cotopaxi held a “We Are Ecuador” Solidarity event at our school and it was one of the most beautiful experiences of my international school life. Parents, teachers, students, community organizations, the military, and other dedicated groups of people all working together to give back and to help support our country. It was a huge event and all proceeds and donations were either loaded onto trucks headed for the coast, or sent directly to relief funds which will go to support all those in need. I spent the day watching the performances, listening to the speeches, and watching our community come together like I’ve never seen before…and it was so beautiful. Adversity often brings out the best in people, and it can help bring people together in powerful ways…I’ve been watching this unfold throughout the week and like I said before, I’ve been inspired and incredibly proud to be a member of this community.
        I’d like to share one little story that truly touched my heart, and shows the level of support that has trickled down to the most beautiful of places. Last Tuesday, just three days after the earthquake struck, I was welcoming the students off of the buses like usual when a second grade girl came walking over to me. She tapped me on the arm and as I turned she reached into her pocket and pulled out a one dollar bill. She said, “Mr. Kerr, I want to give my special allowance money to help the victims on the coast. Maybe it will help buy some water for a little girl like me who has lost her Mommy and Daddy…please make sure that this money gets to her”. Well, you can imagine what I was feeling as the little girl walked away, and it snapped me back to what education is all about…empathy, compassion, kindness and teaching our students to think beyond themselves, and about creating a better word for us all…out of the mouths of babes.
        Anyway, below is a link to our solidarity relief site, which is a place for you to not only help if you feel so inspired, but to see how our community has come together in a very special way. I’m proud of our school…I’m proud of our country…and I’m proud of the international community who has offered their much needed support. In a world full of bad news and bad press, and seemingly unending tragedy and disaster (both natural and man made), it is beautiful to see the gratitude that can come out of the face of adversity. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.
Quote of the Week….

Gratitude in adversity is the most beautiful and precious crown of the soul 

-LUDOVICUS BLOSIUS

We Are Ecuador Relief Page – 

www.cotopaxi.k12.ec/weareecuador

Articles on Overcoming Adversity –
TED Talks – 
Earthquake Relief Videos –

About Daniel Kerr

Dan Kerr is now Lower School Director at the American School of Paris. He previously served as Intermediate Division Principal at Academia Cotopaxi American International School in Quito, Ecuador, and prior to that was the Middle School Principal at SCIS in Shanghai, China. Dan has also worked at JIS in Jakarta, Indonesia and he began his International career in Abu Dhabi. Dan is thrilled to be joining the ASP family and will be accompanied by his wife, Jocelyn, who will be working as a counselor, and his two children, Max and Gabby. 
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