Hanalei Swan: Redefining Education— Creating a Career Path as a Digital Nomadic Kid
"Times are changing"
Several debates and arguments have been made over what education is and what it is not. And for the most part, people seem to accept the notion of classroom teaching— a form of conventional education.
Although, the role of education can never be ruled out. It is important in almost every sphere of life. However, one would wonder if classroom teaching and schooling is all that there is to education.
The rate of school drop-outs is increasing by the day. In the United States alone, over 1.2 million students drop out of high school every year. That's approximately 7000 students each day.
Perhaps, something may be amiss in the way education is being done.
However, it is not surprising to see young people seek a way out and carve a niche for themselves— with or without education. After all, the CEO of Facebook— Mark Zuckerberg, was a dropout. Yet, his net worth is over billions of dollars.
And just like Hanalei Swan, author of "How To Be & Raise an Unstoppable Kid", whose parents took her travelling around the world at the age of 1-year-old in a bid to start a digital nomad life.
Homeschooling as an Expat Kid
The idea of homeschooling dates as far back as the 1970s. And still, it has stayed relevant till the present age. The essence of homeschooling cannot be underestimated, as a child's development is carefully monitored throughout different stages of learning. Also, the child is shielded from bullies and negative relationships that may dampen the child's self-esteem.
But then, can school be ruled out?
No, the school can never be ruled out. This is because the learning prowess of each individual is different from the other. Some may choose to not attend school and still be successful. And on the other hand, some may attend school and be better off than their peers who didn't. It all depends on the abilities of each individual.
With homeschooling, the possibilities are endless. And such is the case of Hanalei Swan, who is the founder of HS styles— an eco-friendly and sustainable fashion brand she started at the age of 11. Her parents, Rhonda Swan and Brian Swan decided to never put her into daycare but have her learn through life experiences and not by the pages of a book. They were particular about monitoring Hanalei's personal growth.
Two years before Hanalei was born, her mother had vowed that she wasn't going to be the constantly busy mom whose child practically lived in a daycare. Rhonda decided she would leave her corporate job, start her own business, alongside her husband.
"I made a vow to her that I would never put her in daycare, and planned her birth out with a perfect plan. The thought of going back to a 9-5 and putting my daughter in daycare crushed our soul, we wanted to raise her from experience over a textbook", Rhonda says.
The couple had decided to start a digital nomad life after the real-estate bubble of 2008 when they had lost almost everything. With 2 laptops and surfboards in hand, they took a huge leap of faith to tread down a new career path.
Hanalei says; "I was one year old when I started travelling. I left the USA to travel abroad with my parents. They wanted me to learn from real life, not from the pages of a book". "Plus, my Mom wanted to be the main influence in my life over having someone else raise me every day", she concludes.
Hanalei goes to school in every country visited, but only for a short time, as most of her learning is done across the globe. She says; "Most people think I have grown up differently than other kids my age but I think it's pretty normal. I've attended schools in countries like Brazil, Panama, Peru, Mexico, Spain, the USA and Indonesia. I've had the opportunity to see some incredible places and meet amazing people"
Rhonda also says; "Our daughter Hanalei has more stamps in her passport than most adults, and she is seeing and doing things that she would have only ever learned about in a textbook".
Timing for a Career
"So, what do you want to be now ?"
The stereotypical way of asking what anyone wants to be in life is often "what do you want to be when you grow up"? And most times, people are asked when they are done with a particular phase of life, or when they are done with High School.
But for Hanalei, the case was much more different. At 7 years of age, she was asked what she wanted to be at that moment. The question expanded her horizon and changed her perspective on the possibilities she could explore at such a young age. She realized she didn't have to wait to pursue her dreams until she was about 20 or 30. Then and there at the age of 7, she started her fashion brand.
She says; "When I was 7 years old, my mum recorded a video of me on a beach in Costa Rica telling her that I wanted to be a fashion designer and an artist," says Hanalei. "But I think my parents never imagined that my passion would evolve the way it did. To many, I am a different kid because I'm growing up differently from most children, but to me, it's pretty normal as it's all I know. Every day of my life has been an adventure, and there was always space for creativity. I believe these experiences have been part of who I am and why I have become both an artist and a designer"
Although, we are indeed a product of our environments. The things we are exposed to have a significant influence on our way of life and even inspire our career paths. Hanalei testifies; "when I was 5, I lived in Spain, Morocco & Panama and since then I became fascinated with fashion and design. Travelling this much has introduced me to a lot of styles, textiles, colours, and designs. The pollera of Panama, Moroccan Kaftans, to Balinese Kebaya. sarongs. I am inspired by them all."
Against All Odds
No career path is entirely smooth, as there are both rainy and sunny days. Hence, as a career chaser, it is quite necessary to be able to bounce back from shortcomings, and also know how to prevent such occurrences in future.
Rhonda testifies; "It was pretty disappointing when Hanalei's first prototypes came back and they weren't right. Her mentor, Karen Keith, has guided her through this journey and we have been so happy to have her. Karen moved her workshop to our team house in Bali so that Hanalei could have her prototypes made the right way."
"Regardless, it was such a great time for her and a learning experience. This is exactly the kind of thing that we do to help her grow her talents"
Overcoming difficulties or shortcomings in career paths helps to grow a thick skin against such happenings in the long run. It also fuels the dream, which allows more room for growth.
Hanalei says; "my passion has always been art and fashion. My goal is to help women and young girls love themselves and feel beautiful in their skin. I have always wanted to help people. And that's exactly what my message and collection will do. Make people happy. I want to inspire women and young girls to live their dreams NOW."
Amidst it all, finding a balance is of utmost importance. It all depends on what works best for each individual. One must not walk in the footsteps of another, but a unique path that yields the most growth and potential.