We love the fact that Rich Wilson spends the vast majority of his Open 60 time and energy providing unique, powerful learning oportunities for kids through his sitesALIVE! program. For the 2016 Vendee Globe, Wilson has taken a big step further – he’s gone full French on us, and all the way to the top! From the very well-done sitesALIVE! Newsletter (which you can sign up for here):
As Great American IV arrives in les Sables d’Olonne ready to complete training, we’ve surged ahead in our bid to appeal to audiences in France, where the Vendée Globe is well known. We are set to launch a French version of our website; our Teachers’ Guide has already been translated into French; and, most importantly, the Directorate-General for Schools of the French Ministry for National Education has agreed to collaborate on our educational program. More details to follow after administrators return from the August holidays.
Although the Vendée Globe already offers an education program for school children via their website, the education ministry appreciated several novel aspects of sitesALIVE! They liked that we put curricular topics into real world context and that we offer a team of experts, plus the chance for students to interact globally around the various topics. After an initial favorable meeting in February with ministry officials (thanks to the introduction of the American Embassy in Paris) we met again in June to hash out details. The ministry has approved our program for use in French schools.
In other France-related news, we arrived in les Sables d’Olonne on August 17th (see details below), after motoring for the last part of the trip over calm seas. Training will be completed here. Previously, at the end of June, we sailed a short training run with British sailor Dee Caffari (who was also on board to help on the voyage from the Azores to South Hampton in November last year). Although we started out on this latest training run with lightning storms, which Dee categorized as “very, very, frightening,” we managed to put skipper and boat through their paces, tacking and gibing, changing sails and checking all systems on board. As in November, it was reassuring to have Dee aboard as we got the hang of sailing the big boat in a variety of conditions.
Seventy-five days before the start, French enthusiasm for the Vendée Globe is building, and this time around we want to make sure to do everything possible to make our educational program accessible to French-speakers. We’re on track to launch a French version of the sitesALIVE! site, due in September. We’ve also had the teachers’ manual translated into French, giving francophone teachers — wherever they may be in the world — instructions on how to guide their students through our math, science, history and geography curriculum, based on a sailing adventure that circumnavigates the globe.