Who is Doing What
VWS Alumni Corner Interview with Nathan Chase, Class 2004
NC: After graduation, I spent a year in Vancouver working at miscellaneous jobs in construction before doing some social work at the Cascadia Society. During this time I was looking for a post-secondary degree program that would offer me a balance between environmental issues and business. Humboldt State University in Northern California was my answer, and so I moved to San Francisco to establish myself in the United States. Part of getting established included starting a mobile, eco-friendly auto detailing business and operating it for a year prior to enrolling at Humboldt. I am now in my fourth year and will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Resources Engineering next spring. Last summer I travelled to Southeast Asia where I experienced a culture with issues that are very different from my own. It is important for me to do work that is potentially helpful, and to achieve balance in my life. Striving for balance is the key to my future plans; balancing social issues with environmental issues is an area I would like to expand into potentially through a green MBA program or a socially oriented Masters degree. Part of balance for me includes finding enjoyment outside the dry and sterile environment of the classroom. I am very involved with the Campus Center for Appropriate Technology, a student-run demonstration home for sustainable living where I act as a Technical Advisor and Safety Liaison. The home is a living laboratory for experimental learning where students design, create and test sustainable living techniques. Some highlights are a solar thermal and electricity system, homemade nature paints and using a greywater recycling system that treats 80% of our water for reuse.
VWS: How did Waldorf education affect your life, and your choice of career?
NC: Waldorf education has affected my life and my education. I am a positive thinker, self-confident; I don’t perceive many barriers in my life. This is one of the positive results of the education itself. I have met other students who chose paths only related to their aptitudes — keen mathematicians or scientists for example, but I feel I had the freedom to choose beyond just the areas that I excelled at. My choices were left wide open. My Waldorf Education has given me the capacity to attack any problem and take it forward with confidence. It has helped me integrate my knowledge and experiences gained throughout life as valuable tools for many of life’s challenges.
VWS: What do you think are your greatest successes in life?
NC: Pause….success? One’s success is measured in many ways around the world, whether one is capitalist or socialist, Buddhist or atheist, from an Eastern or Western framework….even the idea of an individual and therefore individual success is something contested all over the world. Out of the world’s diversity, I’ve come to see my life not as a series of successes and failures, but as a process and continuum of experiences; what I experience in life and the effect I have, both positive and negative, is part of the beauty of life. So success for me is not my own success but something that is part of the web of life’s experiences shared over the world.
VWS: What are your fondest memories of your time at the VWS?
NC: There are many, from Preschool through to Grade Twelve…the Grade School plays & class trips, definitely the high school hiking trips, playing on the sports teams at the provincial level, the excitement of meeting students from the Waldorf Nelson School at the Grade Five Games. One of the highlights was the challenge and self-discovery of my Grade Twelve Project, “The Psychology of Classic Cars”. The project for me exemplifies the goals of Waldorf Education and is quite fitting as the culminating educational experience. One thing I would really like to share with families at the VWS is that I have found that I have three qualities that the Vancouver Waldorf High School instilled in me: how to learn and adapt, the confidence to adapt to new situations and the ability to think in many ways, creatively and analytically. I feel these capacities have put me on more than an equal playing field when it comes to achieving a four-year Baccalaureate degree. They stand to hold though, as everyone has to adapt to changing educational systems and teaching methods in university no matter what the educational background! University teaches you what to think; Waldorf Education teaches you how to think, feel, and live for yourself.
Interview by Dawn Caywood, for Development February 2010
* The Vancouver Waldorf School provides an experiential, age-appropriate approach to education based on the insights of Rudolf Steiner that inspires students to love learning, to be creative, open-minded, and compassionate. With a curriculum that integrates all academics with the arts and social learning, Waldorf Education develops not only the left and right hemispheres of the brain but the whole human being. A child’s social, emotional, physical and intellectual development is considered equally, supporting a conscious unfolding of the individuality within each student. Waldorf graduates possess capacities for empathy and clear, creative and independent thinking that enables them to carry out a chosen course of action with moral courage and social responsibility.