Kristen Watts, Ridley H.S., PA

As an English teacher, I feel one of the most important pieces of wisdom in life comes from understanding humanity itself. I emphasize this with my students year after year, and I especially love teaching Into the Wild because it sheds light on the search for true humanity within ourselves and within others. Sometimes a brief period in our lives, such as reading a book about Chris McCandless’ journey, or being an audience member in a virtual class session with Carine McCandless, can affect us forever. Our students at Ridley High School were fortunate to witness Carine, an honest, humble remarkable woman, tell an emotive story about growing up with her parents and her brother, Chris. It’s a story which every teenager in an audience can understand and empathize with, because like Chris, everyone feels the “need for a purpose,” no matter how old. Carine McCandless’ story is a perfect example of what I want my students to understand: we all lead completely different lives; however, at some point throughout life, everyone feels misunderstood. Each one of us is always truly touched by someone else, and for every one person’s story another person is inspired. When speaking with Carine before the session, she asked what I wanted the students to take away from the experience with her. I told her the kids wanted to know the exact truth about Chris, and that is exactly what they learned…the truth.