Stephen Danner is an eccentric individual with a thirst for diversity. At the age of 25, he has a rich history of involvement in experimental educational programs. Having been a student of an "Odyssey-style" program in his own youth, Stephen understands, on a personal level, the importance of broadening the scope of traditional education. He believes and teaches that "education does not have to be a strictly pedagogical process. If we educate with interaction and adventure, everyone involved will be wide-eyed and attentive".
Stephen's involvement with alternative learning up to and throughout college inspired him to participate in, seek out, and oftentimes develop his own educational experiences. After learning that Twin Oaks commune, one of the most established egalitarian communities in the U.S., was founded on the principles of B.F. Skinner's utopian novel, "Walden Two," he traveled to Virginia to live at the commune and to study what he assumed would be the obvious links between utopic fiction and modern community and to practice a more socially viable approach to the study of literature.
Stephen's creative approach to education also affects his approach toward alternative travel. He first traveled to Mérida, Venezuela in 1996 as an exchange student where he combined his Spanish studies with volunteer work at a small cultural exchange organization. On his more recent return trip to Latin America in 2000, he served as a volunteer English teacher at an elementary school in Lima, Peru and supplemented his time there volunteer translating at Noticias Aliadas, a Latin American political magazine dedicated to covering social policy and human rights issues often ignored by commercial media.
Being a member of a small group of activists like the U.S. Trek team is not a new experience for Stephen. In the summer of 1996 he was one of the first Union Summer activists in Washington, D.C. Now an on-going project of the AFL-CIO, Union Summer was first molded from the Freedom Summer campaign of 1964, during which hundreds of university students were recruited to spend a summer in Mississippi working with local blacks, registering blacks to vote, teaching in freedom schools, and becoming freedom fighters. Focused on the current inequalities in the American labor system, Union Summer's aim is to revitalize youth involvement in the American labor movement by educating its participants about immigrant rights and illegal labor practices and involving them in grass-roots political campaigns.
For Stephen, The Odyssey is an authentic addition to a budding information system promoting a balance between technological growth and human development. As a member of the US Trek Team, Stephen looks forward to shedding light upon U.S. social history and to working with individuals, movements, and organizations that can truly benefit from and share Odyssey exposure.
In his free time, Stephen enjoys enriching his eccentricities. He has hiked through the Peruvian and Venezuelan Andes, swum with manatees, fished for piranha, won drag competitions, skydived over the Appalachians, won shark fishing competitions, and canoed through the Everglades. Though he has an insatiable spirit for activism and adventure, Stephen's most cherished moments in life are those spent with close friends, whether they be sharing homemade dinners or the solitude of the outdoors.