One of the things I've been asked about most as we've shared our travels so far is the hub that the boys attended in Luxor so I'm going to write about that here. I need to preface this post with a note though. As more and more families around the world choose not to send their children to a "traditional" or "typical" school environment there are more and more of these hubs popping up across the globe and, just like the children that attend them, they are all different.
Some are very structured, following a set curriculum or timetable and some are completely free flowing where the children attending decide how their days will unfold. There are plenty that are a mixture of both.
Some are constant, in one place with families coming and going but the hub is always there and some are "pop up", meaning the hub will run for a predefined time and then end, usually because the family organising things want to move on themselves to new adventures.
Some are run by tutors/teachers and others by the parents of the children attending. Whoever you are and wherever you come from I bet you have something you could share with a group of children. What is your job? Your hobby? What is your passion? Cooking, yoga, coding, fitness, gardening, playing an instrument, drawing or sport, I bet there are kids who would love to have some of your knowledge.
Worldschooling / Full time Travelling / Alternative education, whatever you want to call it is a huge, thriving community and I would never dream of trying to pigeonhole anyone or suggest we are all the same, so, as you read this please know it comes from a family who are always growing and learning, in a community that is doing the same.
So, the hub we chose to try first was here in Egypt. Run by a wonderful family, Louise and Abdel Raheem along with Louise's two children (who have been mentioned in previous posts). I can't speak for her, but I think it's fair to say that after Louise arrived in Luxor she fell in love with the country and decided she wanted to offer a way that other families could experience all that it has to offer. They are committed to running their hub using local people and giving money back to the community they call home. While we were there another amazing world schooling mum, Nadia, was also volunteering.
We signed up for a 6 week term that would involve three days a week with the hub and plenty of time outside of that to do our own exploring. Hub days would be a mix of group time at their outside community space interspersed with trips and workshops to local studios and businesses.
During our term there were 7 families with 14 children ranging from 5 to 16 years old from all over the world.
It's hard to be concise when writing about this experience and there are plenty of highlights that I want to write about in more detail but I really can't overemphasise how full out time was here. There were the hub activities which included arts and crafts like jewellery making, pottery workshops and woodwork. They set up group activities like the souk shopping challenge, running market stalls and raft building. Plus there were all the local community trips like spending the morning at the local animal rescue sanctuary or the farm and banana plantation. (I've included a full list of activities at the end if you're interested).
There were also amazing experiences to be had away from the hub space. The team fostered a real sense of community within the families and away from the hub (although often helped by them with info about local contacts and bartering to get us a good deal etc) we organised everything from hot air balloon trips to quad biking and temple visits, and even a long weekend break at Marsa Alam on the Red Sea. There was a busy WhatsApp group that kept us all connected and it was great to see a shout out that a family or two were planning to be at the park and be able to go join them. One of our favourite memories was a completely unplanned visit to sit at a cafe along the Nile road one afternoon while the kids played in the sand and water. It turned into an evening full of fun and laughter, where the owners of the cafe helped the kids build a bonfire and we ate falafel and chips and drank juices and sweet coffee and tea while the sun set over the water.
Plus there were all the times the teens hung out whether it was heading out to explore Luxor, playing computer games or going for pizza in town. There were afternoon play dates at swimming pools and parks. There were shared lunches and dinners with the other families. There's just too much to mention.
Of course it wasn't a whole 6 weeks of joy and laughter. Whenever a group of new children collide there will be ups and downs, misunderstandings and personality clashes but the hub gave them space to learn and grow and I'm so proud of how these difficulties were overcome.
Because Dexter was a little nervous to be left without a parent I had the pleasure to be around to observe the majority of the time the kids were together at the hub and I was constantly blown away by their sheer joy and acceptance of people who are different to them. Speaking different languages, having different faiths and belief structures, none of it mattered.
Of course the big long list of activities were all amazing, experiences that we'll never forget but it's the little moments that I think made this whole journey so enriching. Watching a group of kids spend two hours totally focused on creating a Lego world. Seeing how one child would learn a new technique with woodworking or drawing and be keen to share their ideas with the others. Listening to teenagers giggling as they walked off into town to hang out away from their "very uncool" parents. Seeing kids, who had been strangers days before, saving seats on buses for "their best friends". Dinners and drinks where the kids played and roamed free while their parents sat late into the night putting the world to rights and sharing their journeys.
I can't tell you how much we all learned, not just the children but us adults too, from our time in Luxor. I can't imagine how our boys ever would have had such a rich experience in a traditional, Western classroom.
Finding this hub, meeting these families was our sign that this is the right way forward for our family. I am so humbled that the people we met were so open to immersing themselves in this experience with us and I'll be forever grateful we were all there together.
There will be never be one "right" way to educate children, but for us, right now, this is pretty close to perfect.
So, here's to all the home educating, world schooling, alternative families doing their thing. Thank you for being out in the world and I hope we get to meet many more of you on our future adventures.
So as promised, I'm going to list what we got up to in a diary format below, I will go into more detail about lots of these adventures in future posts, but if there are any in particular you'd like to see more information on do let me know in the comments.
Week 1: Meeting the families and plenty of time for introductions and free play. Walking in the local countryside. Picking and eating our first raw sugarcane. Decorating the community area with their own posters and art. Walks in the desert to see churches and take a sneak peek at brand new archeological dig sites then painting some of the rocks they'd found on their travels. Attending a street party where we watched dancing and fire juggling and ate sweet pastries and black tea. A visit to Luxor temple and to finish the week, a hot air balloon ride over the Valley of the Kings.
Week 2: The kids took part in a buying/bartering challenge in the Souks of the East bank. they did woodwork and T-shirt decorating. There was a pottery class at a local studio plus some desert quad biking.
Week 3: Visit to the Valley of the Nobles. Waffle and pancake making. Back to the pottery studio for painting and glazing their creations. Visit to an alabastar factory. Bonfire and chips by the Nile as the sun set. An unforgettable trip to the Valley of the Kings.
Week 4: Creating juices, sandwiches and cakes for a hub family lunch. Visiting a local farm and banana plantation, meeting and caring for the animals there and creating and cooking pizza in a hub built pizza oven. Games night. Jewellery making. A trip to Karnak Temple. A super hot pool day.
Week 5: Henna painting. Nile boat trip with a BBQ on a sandbank. Trip to "Banana Island". Market day where the children created and ran market stalls to raise money for a local animal rescue charity. Weekend trip to Marsa Alam on the Red Sea coast.
Week 6: Visit to ACE animal rescue to meet the animals and give their donations, this included returning a recovered puppy back to her farm home. Birthday sunset Nile boat ride plus pizza. Sports day. Trip to the mummification museum. Raft building. Pool party. "Graduation" and whole group farewell dinner.
How's that for packing stuff in!