A Walk In Their Shoes
Educator in the Edgar, Wisconsin, School District
If young people are going to work and live in a global society, understanding the impact of other cultures and that history takes place every day across our planet is important for them to learn. Colin Hanson, an educator in the Edgar, Wisconsin, School District, talks about A Walk in Their Shoes, a collaborative effort by north central Wisconsin educators to provide access to powerful speakers who have first-hand experience with contemporary history. The vision is to help students see the world with different eyes and give them the opportunity to look at life from a global perspective and the chance to see that one person can truly make a difference. Colin and the speaker series can be reached at https://www.awalkintheirshoes.org.
[00:00:00] [Jaunty Guitar Music]
[00:00:11] Mike: Welcome everybody. This is Avoiding the Addiction Affliction, a series brought to you by the Kenosha County Substance Abuse Coalition. I'm Mike McGowan. You know, every now and then during these conversations, we deviate a little bit away from substance abuse and we focus on people and groups that have done things that benefit their community.
Well, you don't know this because you're listening to it later, but we're actually recording this on Martin Luther King Day, and we wanted to do that again today with our guest, Colin Hanson from Edgar, Wisconsin. Colin is a teacher in the Edgar School district. And a part of a group called A Walk in Their Shoes, which is a collaborative effort by North Central Wisconsin educators who hope to put a personal face on current [00:01:00] and historical events.
[00:01:03] Colin: Oh, thank you for the opportunity. This is exciting.
[00:01:06] Mike: Oh, it is for me too. I mean people who listen to these know that I was a history major in college despite the family therapy background and everything else, so I love this. But can you start us off, tell us a little bit of about A Walk in Your Shoes, how it got started, and why in the Wausau area?
[00:01:22] Colin: Yeah, I mean, I was blessed. I graduated from college in 99 and I went to the Peace Corps and served in Thailand. And in 2003, after three years, I came back and nobody knew me. I couldn't get a job. I applied all over the state of Wisconsin. And actually Lisa Witt, the principal at Edgar Elementary, interviewed me for a para position. And hired me in Edgar for a para position where I worked in fourth and fifth and sixth grade. I was a para for three years, and during that time they had two middle school events, like a health fair and a career fair. [00:02:00] And Lisa said, gosh, it would be nice to have a third event so that in middle school. You would always have like an activity to look forward to. Kind of like a big health fair, career fair, and then something else. At the time I was reading a book called Left to Tell and there was this beautiful lady on the cover. And there was mountains in the background, no pictures, and I just started reading it. And it was about a gal by the name of Immaculée Ilibagiza.
[00:02:30] Mike: Yes.
[00:02:31] Colin: And she survived the genocide in Rwanda.
[00:02:34] Mike: Yes.
[00:02:35] Colin: 1994. I was a junior, and in April of my junior year, I was thinking about prom and baseball and all that. 95 I graduated high school. I mean, the genocide in Rwanda never hit my radar until the movie Hotel Rwanda. And after reading that book, I went up to Lisa and I said, this is kind of a crazy story.
What if we brought this [00:03:00] lady in to share her survival, and Lisa was like, go for it. I did some research, made some phone calls, and $25,000 later, 14 sponsors that said yes, and Immaculée is in central Wisconsin sharing, her story about surviving the genocide and we had a community night at Wausau East Auditorium that holds 886 people. There was 900 plus.
[00:03:31] Mike: Wow.
[00:03:32] Colin: She talked for an hour and a half to almost two hours. She signed books and basically the rest is history. I had teachers coming up to me saying, let's collaborate. So it's not really, I teach in Edgar, and so these programs only go to Edgar. It is, like you said, teachers throughout central Wisconsin coming together.
So like Wausau, D.C. Everest, Abbotsford, Athens, everywhere near and far, [00:04:00] if there's an interest, let's bring somebody in and if they wanna spend the week, think of how many schools we can have somebody go to all these different schools and touch that many kids. We had Sharon Robinson, daughter of Jackie Robinson come in.
She spoke in Medford, Wausau, Edgar, Merrill, and at the Grand Theater in Wausau. At the time, she was done with all her presentations, 7,500 kids heard her story.
[00:04:37] Mike: Outstanding.
[00:04:38] Colin: It cost $15,000 to bring her. , that's $2 a kid.
[00:04:44] Mike: Wow.
[00:04:45] Colin: You can't go watch the movie 42 for two bucks.
[00:04:48] Mike: You can't buy a dozen eggs. You can't buy a dozen eggs.
[00:04:50] Colin: You can't buy a dozen eggs. But, you know, and I'm throwing out numbers on prices, which I don't want your listeners to be like, that's too much, that's ridiculous for a school [00:05:00] district to undertake. A hundred percent, it can be expensive. But there are foundations, there are, you know, businesses, groups, and organizations.
My first program with Immaculée, 14 sponsors. Over a hundred people said no. Now I have over 70 sponsors. And last week we did a program and a guy came up from the crowd and gave me a hundred dollars cash and said, I wanna help you out with your next program. So like, now people are excited. And yes, after 16 years, you know, now I'm at 70/71 sponsors. But think of all the kids in 16 years we've been able to bring our curriculum and enhance our education.
[00:05:48] Mike: Well, and part of the reason I wanted to do this is for those of you who are listening in other places in the world, other than Wisconsin, central Wisconsin is like a lot of places. It was a pretty homogenous [00:06:00] population back when you started this, right?
[00:06:02] Colin: Yep. Yeah, a hundred percent. I mean, we do have a large population of Southeast Asia, you know, with Hmong. But even they were kind of that group that was on the outside because of their helping of Vietnam, coming over, and not many people understanding why are they here? They don't speak English, we don't have the same cultures, and stuff like that.
And it's really taken a lot to get people to understand that, you know, we are one human race and so a lot of this, A Walk in Their Shoes, is that point. Let's take an hour out of our day, sit in the auditorium or the gymnasium, and let's let Sharon Robinson share about how Dr. Martin Luther King was in her backyard and they were doing a fundraiser for him. Like they had bands, they had painters. Sharon is selling hotdogs and sodas to raise money for Dr. Martin Luther [00:07:00] King. Let's talk about what that was like. Let's talk about Joan Mulholland, who did a counter sit-in, you know, let's talk about Charles Person and Joan Browning as Freedom Rider, right? We can read about it, or we can have Charles person talk about the day he was doing a counter sit-in and the owner walked back, got a butcher's knife, and said to him, if you don't drop my menu, I'll make you.
[00:07:30] Mike: Wow.
[00:07:31] Colin: Now, now for a kid, middle school/high school, to hear about counter sit-ins and then to have somebody sitting in front of you say, that's what was said to me.
That's way more powerful than a textbook, you know, and so it's A Walk in Their Shoes, is that moment in time, undivided attention, and hear it from the heart, hear it from that person, listen to 'them get choked up when they're [00:08:00] reliving their horror, their trauma. See a tear come from that face, you know, that eye. And really to hit that kid and say, whoa. I'm gonna look at the Civil Rights or women's history or Veterans Day a little bit different now because of this story.
[00:08:19] Mike: Well, and I think the interesting thing about that is, you know, I majored in history, I think I told you this, that there's many stories that - I was a voluminous reader - that I didn't know until much later in life that were just tucked away.
[00:08:35] Colin: Yeah.
[00:08:35] Mike: Hidden in history. And you had one of the speakers, I think, when one of the speakers talked about the Japanese internment camps, didn't they? In baseball?
[00:08:44] Colin: Yeah, we had a six month block there that was unbelievable.
I mean, that was right at the time when we were talking about border walls and we were having conversations with, you know, immigration, and here we [00:09:00] had featured the baseball side of the Japanese internment camps. I never knew about the Japanese internment camps when I went to school because that's a black eye in American history that we don't wanna go there. And so it's not gonna be talked about in our textbooks because it's embarrassing. It's horrible. It is horrific on what happened. Well, now here we had two baseball players and a baseball historian come and share their story.
And you could ask me what my favorite program is, or what this is, or that is, or whatever it is, and every program has a moment in time.
[00:09:36] Mike: Hmm.
[00:09:37] Colin: And I'll never forget, and the guy is still living, he's in California, Tets Furukawa. He was the pitcher in one of his historic baseball games at the camps. But anyways, he sent me his suitcase that he got to take to the camp. And he had a nap sack, so he had those two [00:10:00] things. We're doing introductions, we're in the gymnasium, there's 1800 kids in this gym, and I'm done with my introductions and now it's Tets turn to come to the podium. So he comes to the podium. He's 89 years old at the time. He's got a bum knee, right? So he is kind of like, kind of hobbling-ish, you know, slowly making it to this podium in the middle of the court.
And he said, my name is Tets Furukawa. I'm 89 years old and I'm gonna do some acting for you and I break out in a sweat like, what is this guy? Now you have to understand, I go for the story. I never know what these people are gonna do per se.
[00:10:47] Mike: Sure.
[00:10:48] Colin: Like I give them the parameters of they're sixth graders through seniors. Do you have pictures? Do you have this? Do you have whatever? Well anyways, he never said he was gonna do any acting, so I'm trying to think like, what is this guy gonna do at 89? He's got a bum [00:11:00] knee, like what is he gonna do? So he walks back to the table, he grabs his suitcase, he takes his nap sack, and he flips it over his shoulder and he walks back to the podium, he sets it down, and then he leans into the mic and he says, that's all I got to take to the camp. Boom. I mean, it was silent. Like every teacher, every kid was like ...
I mean, Tets and I, we talk and we laugh about that all the time now that he was gonna act and we were totally like - but like every kid can think of a suitcase.
[00:11:48] Mike: Sure.
[00:11:48] Colin: And think of their worldly possessions. What would I take out of my house, my bedroom? It was so powerful for him to [00:12:00] share that moment and then talk about baseball and talk about that. But it totally brought it to a whole different level for kids to like connect with. And then, you know, people ask me all the time, how do you get these people to come in?
Well, Howard Zenimura was one of the baseball guys, and there's a book called Barbed Wire Baseball.
[00:12:21] Mike: Mm-hmm.
[00:12:21] Colin: Which is banned in many states and there's a different book that's banned in Southern Wisconsin, I think Mukwonago about the interment camps because I don't know what the other side of the story is besides, I'm sorry? I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry for what we did? I just don't understand why there there's two sides to this story besides those who survived the camp and the people that put 'em in the camp, like I don't know what else you do. Well, anyways, Barbed Wire Baseball written by Marissa Moss is about Kenichi Zenimura, Howard's dad.
So we [00:13:00] had Howard come in and talk about his dad, talk about baseball. Howard had a couple kids: one is Kurt, his son, and one is Kathy, his daughter. Kathy is married to a gentleman, Randy Yano. Randy Yano's dad is Robert Yano, who was in the camp. Robert was part of the 442nd "Go For Broke".
So the baseball story led me six months later to the "Go for Broke" 442nd story, like unbelievable to have the two camp's stories in different lights, but yet then to have the most decorated military unit to come to town. Them volunteering and saying, I will prove I'm a loyal American by signing up for this. [00:14:00] You know, they did unbelievable service for our country, and yet here, Robert Yano is in our gym on Veterans Day, not only with his congressional gold medal, but then his sash that he wore throughout the war. Japanese tradition is something with a thousand, like a thousand is kind of that magical number. And so the women in the camp put a red stitch a thousand stitches on this sash for every guy in the service. So here I am walking around the gym, with a sash from World War II to show the kids this historic, like museum piece that I'm walking around the gym with, that he's talking about serving in our military and his job in the 442nd, [00:15:00] like on Veterans Day in Edgar, Wisconsin.
But that's a walk in their shoes. We're walking in Robert's shoes. He's telling us about serving, he's telling us about the camp, you know.
[00:15:13] Mike: It's not rocket science here that we're living in fractured divisive times. And that's part of my wanting to do this. So this brings people together?
[00:15:26] Colin: It does. And what's really cool is, there are people, like if you took a survey from my sponsorships and just asked like, did you vote one way or the other? It might even be split down the middle. But yet they see the value in these programs and in education for our kids. And whether it's a Civil Rights story, or a women's history story, or a Black History month story, or whether it's, you know, a PE or an art story or a Veterans Day story, they're still supporting [00:16:00] it. Because it's education. But I'll be honest, 16 years ago, I don't think we had that much of a division, whereas, maybe if I started today, it wouldn't get off the ground.
[00:16:17] Mike: Okay, so do you get blow back now?
[00:16:21] Colin: I don't because I think people just say that's Colin Hanson. That's what he does. I mean, think about it, we have school boards throughout the state of Wisconsin banning books, right? We have elected officials banning things statewide. On October 25th, we had one of the drop-the-mic historic moments, I think ever by having Jo Ann Allen Boyce featuring her book, This Promise of Change, the story of the Clinton 12 from Clinton, Tennessee, 1956, desegregating public schools, not written about, not known.[00:17:00]
On October 25th, that Tuesday she presented. On October 26th, I presented to the school board asking the school board if we could mark October 25th from here on out - because our fifth graders, fourth graders, third graders, second graders, first graders, kindergartners, were not at that program - if we could mark October 25th from here on out, Clinton 12 Day in Edgar, Wisconsin.
If we could do that, not only for Jo Ann, not only for Bobby Cain, but for all 12 and their families for what they did to make America better. Unanimously, the school board of Edgar voted yes from here on out, October 25th is Clinton 12 day that we will celebrate.
[00:17:56] Mike: That's outstanding.
[00:17:58] Colin: And that's because I [00:18:00] think quite frankly, this is what they come accustomed to. Is that we're gonna do this.
[00:18:07] Mike: And today, I didn't know this until we were - we always chat - for those of you listening, we always chat a little bit before I start to record this, and this is Martin Luther King Day and you were telling me about being in a classroom today, and you told me something that I guess either I didn't know or I'd forgotten, that Martin Luther King was also born the same year as?
[00:18:27] Colin: Anne Frank. And Nancy Churnin has this amazing book. And here's another twist that Nancy Churnin told me, that I never knew, and I gotta do more study on it just so I can add more depth to the conversation, but Adolph Hitler sent lawyers to America to study the segregated south so he could do similar things to the Jews in Germany. And I never knew that, but Nancy was telling me that backstory about Martin and Ann and kind of the tie-in on that [00:19:00] and stuff.
And yet at the fifth grade level, we don't talk about that. But that book, Martin & Ann, by Nancy Churnin is a great story to read on Martin Luther King Day. Is a great story to read in February, Black History Month, is a great story to read In March, Women's History Month, is a great story to read when you're studying the Holocaust because it ties two worlds together by two people just trying to make the world better, you know, and having that.
And so, yeah, with our fifth graders, and maybe it's our classroom, but we talk about things and we break it to their level, and it's always about being kind, you know, it's always about, we're gonna open our minds and our hearts, you know, to the world around. And we always talk about that. We always do that.
[00:19:48] Mike: So you had fifth graders today talking about Martin Luther King and Anne Frank.
[00:19:53] Colin: Martin Luther King, Anne Frank, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, Claudette Colvin. For those that don't know, she actually [00:20:00] wouldn't get off the bus pre-Rosa Parks. We talked about the Clinton 12, The Little Rock Nine. We talked about Joan Mulholland, counter sit-ins, and just talking about things to break it down to their level. And it doesn't matter if you're a boy or girl, it doesn't matter if you're tall or short, doesn't matter if you're blonde or dark hair or whatever it is. It's all about being kind and accepting of others. And it was just cool. And that was our snack time! I mean, that wasn't even social studies. That was just like 20 minutes of snack! I mean, we got people handing out birthday treats, and everybody's eating rice crispy bars and we're having a real conversation.
[00:20:39] Mike: And the kids handled that, how?
[00:20:42] Colin: The best part about with kids is they're gonna say things like, wait, wait, wait, Mr. Hanson, can I say something? Yeah, sure. You got the floor, you say something. "I don't understand why people would judge people because of that. That seems kind of stupid." Yeah, it does seem kind of stupid and mean. [00:21:00] And if you can build that into them now, then when they get older, they can start calling it out, and we can make changes the way we need to make changes.
If we say a topic is too hard now at fifth grade to talk to them about it, then when is the right time? Because is it senior year, or is it in college? You know, when they've already formed their ideas? And again, we're breaking it down to the fifth grade level.
We're talking about people sitting in the front of the bus versus the back of the bus based upon color, which happened, and they even knew the words: racism. They even knew that, like they said it. And we talk about is that kind, is it not kind? And you know, break it into their level.
We don't go to the roots of roots. You know, we're not talking about, bringing out photographs of slavery and all the horrific things that happened, but we are talking about situations that [00:22:00] happened and how we can do better, you know?
And they are meeting people like Charles Person, an original Freedom Rider. And in the same regard, they're meeting people like Melissa Stockwell, who is a woman veteran who lost her leg in Iraq. They're meeting her and they're hearing her story. How, wait a second, she can join the military? You're darn right she can. And she can play sports, and she can do whatever she wants, you know? And so it's just opening their eyes that everybody has a capability.
[00:22:34] Mike: Well, and to bring it home to my house, I have a son who just graduated college and part of his job is procuring parts for his company, and he is working and talking to people all over the world.
[00:22:49] Colin: Sure.
[00:22:50] Mike: From different cultures, different languages, and having to broach that. And that's the world that these kids are gonna grow up in, right? This global [00:23:00] economy, this global world where you never know, it's constantly moving parts.
[00:23:05] Colin: And on top of it, you know, we have international students in Edgar and we always invite them to our classroom to share their story because, I always look at it like, you know, I'm not the smartest guy, but if you can be culturally, socially appropriate, you can do a lot of things.
[00:23:27] Mike: Mm-hmm.
[00:23:28] Colin: You don't have to be the richest person, you just have to be open, you know, both in your mind and your heart, and then to hear what other people are doing and have a conversation. And I think that's part of the things that we wanna do with students in Edgar and Central Wisconsin and even North Central Wisconsin.
And I'll be honest, I would love to share these programs throughout the state of Wisconsin.
[00:23:51] Mike: Guests have been on NPR and WPR, right?
[00:23:54] Colin: Right. But even then, like okay, so Nancy Turnin. You know she's coming in [00:24:00] March. Well, okay, if I had 10 schools that said we're super interested, all right, Nancy, what would it cost to bring you for a week?
[00:24:07] Mike: Yeah.
[00:24:08] Colin: Because why would I bring Nancy into my school and then have her go home to Texas, and then have a school 5 miles, 10 miles, 15 miles down the road call her back up, schedule everything. I mean what for the Golden Apple Award? For a scratch and sniff sticker? I mean, that's just dumb. You know, in education we need to share more and we we need to do more together. Because it's not about my school, it's not about your school, it's about kids as a whole in our society to be better.
[00:24:42] Mike: You know, it's funny you should say that because today at the school that I was at, the discussion I had with the kids, was a very similar topic, but a different slant. What's going around their world right now on TikTok and social media is the video of the high school kid [00:25:00] that was incredibly cruel to the developmentally challenged young man calling him unbelievably derisive names, laughing it off, and nobody stood up for that kid.
And it's the same kind of thing that, you know, no one wants their kid to go to school where they have to be in fear of being criticized for who they are.
[00:25:21] Colin: Mm-hmm.
[00:25:22] Mike: And that's the story. That's every one of your stories, that's the main point.
[00:25:28] Colin: Well, and the other thing is , you know, I look at it as a history lesson.
[00:25:32] Mike: Mm-hmm.
[00:25:32] Colin: And one of the profound things I learned, I had an opportunity to work with the Milwaukee Jewish Council many years ago, and then I was able to take a trip out to DC to go to the Holocaust Museum. And the night before we left from Milwaukee, there was a speaker and it was a Holocaust survivor, and then there was some other people that came in to share, and they said, you know, just to break it down a little bit, they drew a triangle on the, on the board [00:26:00] and they said you know, the problem with the Holocaust was in simple math terms was you had 10%, were your Nazis perpetrators, 5% were your rescuers, your resistance of the Holocaust 85% were your bystanders that did nothing. And they said, just think if 5% from that 85%, and so it was an equal fight against the Nazis and the resistance, what a difference that would've made.
And I'll never forget too, I didn't get to go to it, but in Marshfield, they had one of the twins, it was kind of a famous story, and it was a documentary called like Forgiving Dr. Mengele. And it was one of the twins was in Marshfield and she was talking. And there was kind of this lady that was known in the Marshfield area as a denier of the Holocaust. And in a crowd of [00:27:00] hundreds, I wasn't there, but there were some students from Edgar that went, and they said, Mr. Hanson, you should have been there, it was crazy. This lady stood up, grabbed the mic, and she was just yelling on the mic how this lady's a fake and a phony, and the Holocaust never happened and this and that and whatever. And I think the coordinator of the program finally got her to leave.
And I said, what did the crowd do? Huh? And she said, nothing. Nothing. And I was like, whoa, like nobody? She's like, no they were kind of like, what's going on? I mean, I get it. It's tough. And maybe when I was a kid, back in the 80s and 90s, I probably wouldn't have stood up either.
But that's what we're trying to empower our kids, is don't be a bystander. Go get help. Go tell somebody. Don't take a video of it, [00:28:00] do something. And I think too, when you're talking at schools or if I'm teaching, that's what we're trying to do is empower with facts, with information, with history, so that we don't repeat it. I mean, we say it as that cliche of like, you learn it so you don't forget it, so you don't repeat, it kind of per se, but then you gotta do something with it.
Yeah. These kids we're trying to empower them so that if they see something, they can say, you know what, what Charles Person went through, that's horrible, and what you're doing to that kid is the same thing. You're horrible. And tell them to knock it off. Use their words. Because that's the only thing that's gonna stop it is not to be a bystander.
[00:28:41] Mike: And kids, especially middle school and high school kids, really connect with those personal stories of perseverance, because they give them hope for what they're going through developmentally.
[00:28:53] Colin: Yeah, definitely. We just had a chef, Brandon Chrostowski, look him up on YouTube put "knife [00:29:00] skills", like you're cutting a knife, and then "knife skills", and then put Brandon.
Chrostowski, but if you just put Brandon with a C, it's a 39-minute documentary. Well, he was just at a school here in Central Wisconsin, and before I met and brought him to that school, teacher had shown the documentary and was talking about prepping the kids that he's coming here, he is gonna speak, but then he is also gonna cook with the culinary kids and this and that.
And this kid, the teacher said, this kid that really just shows up, sits down, doesn't really do anything, whatever, whatever. She had them write on an index card, you know, like just thoughts, questions, whatever. And he turned his in and she said, blew me away! And I said, what do you mean? She's like, he wrote, if he can do it, then there's hope for me.
[00:29:50] Mike: Wow.
[00:29:50] Colin: And that's it! Like what you said, it's making that connection. If Charles Person can get whacked in the head by the Ku Klux Klan and still continue, not only to [00:30:00] be a member of our military and serve in Vietnam, but to keep pushing for equal rights. And you know what? On my worst day I'm gonna remember of Charles' perseverance. I'm gonna remember of the 442nd and the internment camps, I'm gonna remember Betty Wall of the women Air Force Service Pilots, when nobody said you could fly a plane and she did it, and guess what? I wanna fly a plane, so I'm gonna be like Betty. I want it to be in the military, so I'm gonna be like Melissa Stockwell. You know?
And that's what it is, to bring people that look like you, think like you, and now when someone tells you your dream is crazy, then you can say, well, Betty Wall did it. Why can't I do it? You know? And that's, and that's giving em something real in front of them.
[00:30:46] Mike: Wow. That is just, well, okay. So did I tell you to put something in there that's a great place to stop because there's no topper to that. That's a great one.
[00:30:55] Colin: You know, I mean, I love this, but here's what people have to [00:31:00] understand. The support of these programs is second to none. Like, you know, for 16 years I have asked teachers, schools, you know, businesses, people to make sacrifice, but here's the other thing. Not one teacher, not one business, not one person's student said, you know, Mr. Hanson we're kind of over it. Like we're kind of done, like been there, done that. And to hit these curriculums, but to also hit these kids, like as sixth graders, even my fifth graders now are like, can we go to the next one? I mean, I know we're only in fifth grade, but could we'll be good. We'll, like you won't even know we're there.
[00:31:45] Mike: You talked about Anne Frank in our snack time, we're ready.
[00:31:48] Colin: We're ready. You know, and so it's an expectation. And that's what's cool because now you can have these conversations. You can have a book in front of you. You can have Jo Ann, [00:32:00] Alan Boyce, and you can say, whoa, whoa, whoa. I'm just quoting the book. This is what the book said. And you're not making things up, you're not putting your political spin on it, or whatever it is. It's just facts. It's just this is it.
[00:32:12] Mike: And nobody's worse for the wear.
[00:32:14] Colin: Exactly. But I think the more we do, yeah, you're gonna have some tough roads. You're gonna have some people, you know, that might push back, but the beauty is that you're planting a seed for these kids, and you never know when that seed is gonna show.
And if I can just maybe take a couple more minutes and just -
[00:32:32] Mike: Yeah!
[00:32:32] Colin: One of the stories we had, it's a Netflix movie called The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. And many moons ago, there's a book, you know, and there's a children's book, and stuff like that. And so we had William Kamkwamba come in and share his story, and it fit with the science curriculum, natural resources, you name it, all that kind of stuff.
Well, then years had gone by and I was at the bus line and a [00:33:00] gal that graduated from Edgar was back doing some like observations and stuff like that. And I said, oh, what are you here for? And she's like, well I'm observing and kind of working with the science teachers and stuff. I said, oh really? You're going into education? She's like, yeah, I'm going into like middle school/high school science.
I said, that's cool and stuff. We were just talking and then I said, you know, one of my favorite books about science, and she's like, let me guess Mr. Hanson, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. I said, oh, yeah. She's like, Mr. Hanson, I heard William speak. I said, oh, that's awesome! You know, graduating, you don't know when timeframes are for people.
She's like, but let me tell you this Mr. Hanson. And I said, yeah, what's up? And she's like, it was really cool because at UW-SP in one of our science classes, we were talking about windmills and William's name came up, and so I raised my hand and the professor called them and she's like yeah, William came to my school. And everybody's head turned. And [00:34:00] the professor was like, wait what? She's like, well, yeah, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, William Kamkwamba, he came and he spoke and the professor's like, wait, wait, what school did you go to? Edgar. And William came to your school in Edgar? Yeah. How? And she's like, well, we have this teacher, Mr. Hanson.
And I said to her, I said, you made a dream come true for me. That a story would be with you, and when the time was right, you could share it and bring it back to life. I said that, oh my gosh. I was like, I've been waiting for that for years. I always wanna be like, flies on the wall at like colleges and or dinner parties or whatever, and somebody said, you know, somebody's talking about 442nd, Jackie Robinson, you name it, whatever.
And they're like, well, yeah, [00:35:00] when I was a kid, yeah, you know, Sharon Robinson came to our school and everybody's been like, what? What school? What prep school did you go to?
You know, but that's the cool thing, is every kid deserves the best education. And whether it's Edgar, or whether it's Madison, Milwaukee or New York or Chicago, it's just that's what we gotta keep doing is bringing education to life. And that's, that's what we're trying to do with A Walk in Their Shoes.
[00:35:26] Mike: And that's what we've tried to do through these educational, conversational podcasts as well. Colin, this has been delightful. You and I could talk for nine hours in a row.
[00:35:38] Colin: Totally
[00:35:38] Mike: Think I start to flip us off here a little bit.
[00:35:41] Colin: For sure.
[00:35:41] Mike: Turn us off is what I meant.
[00:35:43] Colin: Part two tomorrow!
[00:35:44] Mike: We'll do that. I've been known to call on people twice or three times, so you'll get a call from me down the line.
[00:35:50] Colin: But I appreciate the opportunity and what I wanna say to anybody is, if you Google my name Colin Hanson, you'll find nothing. [00:36:00] Well, you'll find nothing. I'm a nobody. But what I want people to understand is the fact that anybody can do what we're doing in Central Wisconsin because y'all study it. Y'all open the textbook, you know, and there it is. There's whatever story. There's whatever timeframe marked Women History Month.
Okay? Let's find some dynamic women out there that, that did something that changed the course of history. You know, like the Women Air Force Service Pilots of World War II. You know, let's bring their story to life, or bring these authors in that are right and have met wonderful people so everybody can do it.
And so I just encourage you to stick your neck out, just like we ask our kids. Take a chance, take a risk. Do it yourself.
[00:36:48] Mike: Well, and for those of you that are interested, there's of course gonna be a link to this "Nobody's" website on the end of the podcast, and A Walk In Your Shoes so they can learn more about the stories [00:37:00] and have access to the movies, the presenters, as well as the books that Colin mentioned today.
For those of you who are listening, you know you can listen in next time. I hope that you do. Until then, we always encourage you to please stay safe, and it's not a bad idea to hope a little bit.
[00:37:20] Colin: Always.
Stream This Episode
Download This Episode
This will start playing the episode in your browser. To download to your computer, right-click this button and select "Save Link" or "Download Link".