Inoculating the Young Minds of Guadalajara

paulo freire magic fungi school bus

Rising early with the sun, changing into our (least dirty) clothes for school, we head to the middle school Paulo Freire in Guadalajara, Jalisco to teach a course on the cultivation and benefits of mushrooms. We start the day feeling enlivened to share our ideals and philosophies to inspire the next generation of children. These young adults are the seeds (or spores), that with the right information and tools, have the power to shift the future of this planet.

Dropping the spores

We arrive at the school and set up shop while sixty seventh graders filed in the terrace. Silvan opens up with an enthusiastic account of the basics of the world of fungi. With the students captivated, he moves into the medicinal, remedial, culinary, spiritual, soil building, and water purification properties of fungus. Silvan closes the introduction with an amazing interactive activity. He brought the kids back 350 million years ago, where the world was inhabited by “trees” reaching only as tall as one meter and mushrooms spanning to average of 8 meters tall. We joined hands in order to demonstrate the gargantuan size of the prehistoric mushroom, leaving the kids in awe as we moved into our next group activity.

medicinal mushroomsoyster mushroom bag

As we were about to split up and begin the workshops I was a bit nervous, remembering what seventh graders were like when I was in middle school. Perhaps it is a cultural difference, but we were received with respect and fascination. Our first time teaching children, we took special care to engage them, asking questions and sharing interactively. This resonated incredibly well with the students and excitement was vibing in the air.

princess and the buspaulo freire fungi academy

Sharing the lifestyle

Following the workshop, we each led our groups onto the FungiBus, answering an array of amazing questions about lifestyle, choices and paths. It really made me feel like we were making an impact. We entered into the philosophical side of the fungi lifestyle. The eyes of the kids were glowing with interest and inspiration. Soon after, teachers and faculty members of the school heard word of our project which sparked an interest enough for them to come check out the bus and ask some questions. They had the look in their eyes. You know- THAT look. The look where it seems everything in their lives has been shifted of turned upside down. A spark has ignited a flame in the souls of all these people we were able to connect with.

The faculty saw something in our project that they knew had to be shared throughout the school, not just the seventh grade. They invited us to visit over a half dozen more classes to fan the flame that we had sparked in the workshop. We cruised from class to class with our bare feet and instruments, sharing music and stories, discussing how to make dreams reality. More and more children asked questions, showing an enthusiastic interest in the world of fungi and the philosophies buried within.

In the end, it didn’t feel like we were making any old school lecture. It felt like we were connecting on a level that fostered passion and excitement in this journey to heal this planet. We left the school on a wave of gratitude and inspiration.

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