Nathan Chase, Class 2004
VWS: Tell me about your work and education after graduating from the VWS.
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, so I moved to San Francisco to establish myself in the United States. Getting established included starting a mobile, eco-friendly auto detailing business and operating it for a year before 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 very different from my own. It is essential for me to do potentially helpful work and to achieve balance in my life. Striving for balance is the key to my 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 Master’s 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 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, 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 12…the Grade School plays & class trips, 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 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 for 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 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