Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2010


Santa Clara University


The historians may call this a failed expedition. For the first time, we didn’t complete a circumnavigation of Isla Espiritu Santo, an accomplishment that usually entails 50 miles of epic paddling in sea kayaks so loaded with food, water, and gear that it takes eight students to lift one. But in March 2010 it was not to be; El Norte, the bully of the Sea of Cortez, had nearly blown us off the beach, and we’d had to remain on the lee side of the island, roaming the canyons and diving the reefs because we couldn’t safely kayak the windward swells.

And yet, these students not only managed to learn a thing or two about Baja’s natural history, they managed to go about the business of learning in such a way that they became the tightest community of any class with which I’ve worked.

The reflections below, taken from my field notes, are an attempt to figure out what went right, so very right, during an experience that had all the underpinnings of a pedagogical disaster.



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