Thursday, December 08, 2011

200 yr old spoon

Another great day for heritage project presentations! Christine brought us stories of extreme grief from WWII-era Croatia, counterbalanced as is so often the case with the journey to Canada and an end to grief. Bruce contrasted his German/English background with his Filipino background, a contrast that sometimes led to conflict. Braydon told us about his Kookum and Moosum (Cree for Grandma and Grandpa) and the difficulty of maintaining Aboriginal languages in modern Canadian society. Adam delved into his Irish roots, and showed us some Irish turf dub from a peat bog and a carving made from petrified turf. The carving has based on a 7th century crucifix bearing elements from both Christianity and pagan traditions. It was interesting to think about a civilization in transition, turning to local materials to express their defining aspirations. What do we turn to? Am I doing it now? Tyler had a amazing volume of research assembled from his Scottish, Ukrainian, Acadian roots. He brought up the topic of food, and talked about the various dishes that defined his understanding of family. I was left hungry for tortiere, the famous French-Canadian meat pie, and also borscht, to which I am no stranger.
Justin navigated us back in a few directions, notably into his Danish past. Focusing on one family group's experience in Denmark, the immigration experience to Canada, and adjustments afterwards, we got a sense of how rites of passage, choice of occupation shaped identity. We heard about Pier 21 (first time for almost the entire class), of course this gives me clue what should be in a subsequent lesson (another bonus to these projects). The "Vikings" were very good at recording their history, thus Justin had two big charts that took his connections back to the 1400s. He also showed us a spoon that his great-x5-grandfather carved from an ox-horn. This was a communal utensil, passed along with a main dish and used by everyone at the table. As one of my colleagues pointed out, the intimacy of food is high on the list with the other things that we do with our body, including learning, and has an enormous potential for grounding our identity and providing significance to other areas of our life.  
I'm thankful for the intimate act of learning that occurred today, in that we allowed carefully researched ideas and faithfully guarded memories to enter our heads and give us pause to reflect on how we got here and how we should now conduct ourselves.

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