As Quickly as It Began

Incredibly, we’re down to the last two days of Immersion. Students and teachers are furiously collaborating, assembling final projects and presentations and working toward culminating moments. There are signs of vigor and signs of fatigue, as students have “become wholeheartedly immersed in their work.” Burgeoning confidence reflects evidence of growing skill sets and mindsets, and the determination to progress. Within just a few days of immersive learning, tepid voices have become authoritative and developing skills have become proficient. Lunchtime and break conversations demonstrate a depth of engagement that should make every teacher proud, while the class discussions would astonish virtually any educator. All the work and planning that has gone into Immersion is shining through as “teachers and learners...inspire one another.” Sadly, it seems to be ending as quickly as it began, but the memories and understanding developed through these experiences will undoubtedly sustain.

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What Did You Learn About Yourself You Didn’t Know Before Your Immersion?

Students Voices on campus during Immersion...solicited by Rich Brunner

·      Patience runs very low in the food line. I didn’t know I was so impatient about lunch.

·      I know how to invest effectively

·      I know more about the Stock Market. Okay, I didn’t know there WAS a Stock Market before

·      How to use film in a camera and print it. All my photos up to then were taken with my iPhone and printing? Who prints photos?

·      How to use a dark room

·      Didn’t know I had a passion for taking photos.

·      I need a better work ethic!

·      Food burns really quickly in oil

·      Food tastes better outside

·      Learning something new takes patience

·      Sometimes the truth is painful and confronting

·      Learning from the students is always surprising! They invest in the stock market with an open mind, partly because it’s not real money, but also because we said ‘here, try this’ and they do. Adults stop doing that.

·      It’s really fascinating spending all day on one subject.

·      I wish I’d paid better attention the first week.

·      You can keep investing during lunch

·      Wouldn’t it be terrible if there were no vegetarian or vegan options for lunch for the Animal Rights class?

·      The process of planning ANYTHING is daunting – doing it by yourself seems impossible.

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Things that were new about week two of Immersion:

More observations from Rich Brunner...

·      Swing and the Charleston came into prominence in the 1920’s and the 30’s brought the Lindy Hop (named after famous aviator Charles Lindburgh after his ‘hop’ across the pond from New York to London).

·      The Lindy Hop is the precursor to the Jitterbug

·      The Jitterbug – an original song and dance number from 1938’s The Wizard of Oz was cut from the final version of the film because it was considered to be too controversial of a dance for the general public.

·      Films of people dancing the Charleston depicted mostly white people dressed in elegant and expensive clothing; while films of people doing the Lindy Hop were mostly black people dressed in various servant uniforms: waitresses, mechanics, cooks and maids.

·      Racism is about complicity – it’s about permission.

·      Re-watching movies that have controversial material in them re-layer your experience. Sometimes what shocks you the first time is less shocking in subsequent viewings. Sometimes it can be even more shocking and you uncover new information about yourself.

·      Sometimes to get through life you have to poke fun at yourself.

·      Taco/Food trucks have a personality that usually reflects the owner. But the owner and how the truck looks are only two of the ten or more criteria by which food purveyors are judged.

·      Food has a cultural identity which usually reflects the cultural identity of that culture in the larger sense, but not always. For instance, Tacos are usually associated with Korean culture.

·      Deep dives into videos about animal cruelty are highly disturbing even when prepared and forewarned of the content.

·      Last Chance for Animals (LCA) is an international, non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating animal exploitation through education, investigations, legislation, and media attention. LCA is considered the FBI of Animal Rights.

·      It’s unfortunate to note that there are numerous positions and careers in animal advocacy around the world.

·      Classrooms DO NOT make good kitchens!

·      When you walk into a classroom discussion, without context, the discussion can seem very strange. I thought they were talking about politics and governmental policy and it turned out it was about the best Taco trucks.

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Sights of Immersion

Please be sure to check out the photos posted for each class and you’ll see what it looks like to immerse in experiential learning. On the Oakwood Connected Immersion page, you will find links to an album for each class, which will continue to be updated. Thank you to all the photographers in the field, especially, Angelina Attwell, Rich Brunner, Matt Gainsley, and Nechelle Wong-Littman.

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What I learned on the First Day of Immersion

Observations by Rich Brunner...

·      Count Bassie gets categorized under Swing Music and New Orleans Jazz

·      Jazz musicians got sick of people dancing to their music all the time, so the started writing more complex music that people couldn’t dance to. They wanted people to take Jazz seriously and listen to it intellectually.

·      Creating a Board Game has a lot of Essential Elements, including WHAT IS THE STORY OF YOUR GAME, WHAT IS THE GOAL OF YOUR GAME, HOW DOES THE GAME START AND END.

·      Human Beings are natural storytellers

·      Photographs of the beginnings of building the Railroad System in the U.S. helped to ‘sell’ the idea of Western Expansion

·      90% of the Labor Force for Western Railroad expansion were Chinese Americans, but the vast majority of photographs from that era show practically no Chinese Americans at all in them.

·      Is a photograph fact or fiction?

·      What makes an iconic photo?

·      Is a photograph ART or HISTORY?

·      Costa Rican mammals include: Tapirs, Jaguars, River Otters, Crab-eating Raccoons, and Hooded Skunks

·      A good basic knowledge of idiomatic and practical Spanish is really beneficial when visiting Costa Rica

·      Rolling your ‘r’s’ is NOT easy for English speakers

·      Everybody should be trained in protection and self-defense

·      Be Aware! Be Balanced! Be Intentional! These are three elements of self-defense practice that are also essential for all sports activities

·      The most important word in self-defense is NO!

·      Make a dish the way it should be made and then if someone can’t eat it because of some ingredients, so be it.

·      To understand the food of a particular culture you have to, first, research the Geography, the Climate, the History and the Modern Life of that culture.

·      Tell a story about an unknown food or uncommon food you are serving and then part of the fear of eating it dissipates.

·      Cut new foods up in pleasant shapes, stick a toothpick in it and serve it

·      Drones can be used for fun, not just for surveillance

·      Obstacles courses for drone races can be made from chairs, tables, duct tape and bicycle tires

·      Santiago is the patron saint of Spain and is called “the Moor Killer”

·      Playing games is a great way to get to know your travel mates

·      Catholics killed all the Muslims in Spain

·      Spain serves a LOT of ham

·      Mattresses in Spain are like cardboard

·      You have to watch out for the Gypsy Culture in Spain – they can be tricky!


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Back in Action!

Now that the air has mostly cleared and the immediate hazards are behind us, Immersion 2017 is finally in full swing! Students are deeply immersed in gaming and game shows, the science of nature and the magical, appreciating and creating music, analyzing films and writing screenplays, exploring global cuisines and food culture, building, creating, investing, investigating, and learning by doing. Excursions span our great city and state, geographically and culturally, interacting with an amazing array of speakers, authors, artists, and activists. The incredible breadth of experiential learning happening now is mind boggling and paints a fascinating picture of who we are as individuals in societies. Students are examining themselves and others, grappling with issues of race, self-preservation and defense, and the evolution of modern culture and personal identity through their own minds and bodies and through a broad diversity of artistic and creative expression.

We have a group in Alabama coincidentally in the midst of a critical election and moment in modern political history, as they explore the roots of the civil rights movement of the 60s. One class is exploring the coast of Hawaii and the newest earth created, while another class is atop mountains that are scores of millions of years old; pondering existential questions from above, below and everywhere in between. Our last group of sojourners arrived in New Orleans last night, finally ready to explore the Origins of Jazz at ground zero. Longer journeys have brought our students all over the world to learn about different languages and cultures and their influences, tropical biodiversity and environmental science, ocean sailing and navigation.

Students are being stretched, challenged, inspired, and galvanized through learning experiences that are, indeed, “predominantly positive and joyful, and where their relationships with teachers, and with one another, are caring and trusting.” This IS Immersion!

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Student Overnight Parking

Please note that students are not allowed to park on campus or in the North Hollywood Park lot during overnight trips. They will get towed from the Park lot and we don't have enough parking to allow students to leave cars on campus with all of our guest speakers and need to keep the North Campus lot open for buses and food trucks. Please arrange to have students dropped off and picked up when traveling overnight for Immersion classes.

Thank you for your cooperation.

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So Soon!

Beginning at the end of the first day of Immersion on December 5th, you'll find daily updates here on our blog! We look forward to sharing our amazing adventures with you!

First Immersion Course Meetings - FRIDAY!

Get excited! We're having our first Immersion Course Meetings on Friday, November 10th, during Advisory period (9:50AM-10:35AM).

"But where do I go," you might ask. Find the answer below:

Immersion 2017-Initial Class Meeting Rooms.jpg


We sent out all the Immersion Placements on Friday, August 18th. If you didn't get yours yet, please email Phu at


Phu and Dina have been working hard all summer on Immersion Placements and improvements to the Immersion Program. We hope you're enjoying the new site and are looking forward to all the great changes to come soon....