How It All Began
In 1970, a group of independent teachers from Denmark calling themselves The Traveling Folk High School pioneered the movement that would allow students to learn about the world through exploration within its vast territory. The group consisted of 8 teachers and a small group of students, who themselves had been traveling around the world throughout the sixties - a highly unusual behavior at the time.
During the first 10 years every mode of travel was tried out - driving old busses across Europe and Asia to India, sailing through Europe in small self-made river boats, flying to South America and hiking around, driving motorbikes across the USA, trailing dog sleds across the ice of Greenland, canoeing through the wilderness of Canada, tandem biking in the Caribbean, basically the young school exhausted every possibility of transportation to collect information for their world-traveling world-changing school.
Thousands of young people attended courses with Traveling Folk High School, getting to know the planet, making new exciting friends, and using those experiences to learn about the condition of the world. More than 140 countries were visited equaling the distance from the Earth to the Moon and back again over 100 times.
Teachers and students learned extensively about the conditions in many poor countries around the world. It was something of a personal revelation for most of them and extremely enriching to the foundation of the venture at hand.
The Traveling Folk High School developed its own pedagogical principles - some of the original principles include: "You must get close to what you want to learn about - the closer you get, the more you learn" - "Only Adam was alone in the world - the rest of us are here together" - "From one place you don't see far- you must be mobile in order to learn" - and "What you learn, you learn double by passing it on to others".
The lessons learned were simple: The globe is inhabited by human beings pretty much the same - some poor, some rich - some black, some white - some Buddhists, some Muslims.... but all with a wish to live a good life, in peace, to make a living, get educated, have good health, to raise children, to enjoy and endure, to make a difference and to change things for the better.
It was therefore a natural development to change from traveling and studying the situation in the world to becoming an active force in changing matters for the better. So from 1980 onward the school program changed from traveling to participating.
It started in small scale - like bringing vitamin tablets to the children in a village in India; or stuffing all the warm overcoats that could fit into the trunk of the bus to bring to poor people in Eastern Turkey where the winter could take temperatures down below o40 Fahrenheit. It was packing agricultural seeds, donated by the local supermarket, in the rucksack and bringing them to farmers in rural Bolivia. It eventually developed into longer periods of 1 - 2 months of stopping over in one place to participate in building a school, a kindergarten or a small workshop using funds and materials raised and brought from home.
Today, 6 Traveling Folk High Schools have joined in a global movement working hand in hand to develop education programs to offer an opportunity for people to take active roles in creating a global difference. Their main partner in this cooperative, Humana People to People, a sister organization that acts alongside the same mission principles.
The students attend the program with Humana People to People as an IICD team member and will each prepare for their individual job at the project as a Development Instructor. The projects themselves are conducted with a staff member, local and international project leaders, and are carried out for a designated period of time.
There are now 1 school in Denmark, 1 in Norway, 1 in England, 2 in the USA and 1 in the Caribbean. The projects are a continued effort to build people's capacity and skills in being able, through their own efforts, to create a better universe.
Development is a phenomenon of many faces and many places. It cannot be patented and there is no ever-ready recipe. Each Development Instructor must generate the courage to take an active part in finding answers and in joining the forces of development in the slums of the cities and in the villages within the rural areas where it happens.
In the world of reality we must consider the efforts of the first group of students from the Traveling Folk High School as an integral part of the institute still operating and functioning more than successfully today - that institute is IICD.