Digilit Sunday is hosted by Margaret Simon @Reflections on the Teche as an invitation for educators to share ideas for digital literacy and learning.
This year, we’ve given half of our Slice of Life Fridays to a new project: Stories From Our World. Simply put, this is an attempt on my part to connect my students to the world beyond their lovely, leafy suburb. It’s an idea I have had percolating away for many years, ever since Hurricane Katrina. That was when I discovered that many of my kids had some misconceptions about the larger world they lived in; they mistook their own security and wellbeing as something that was universally true for people everywhere, and seemed to believe (for the most part) that poverty and misfortune was a matter of choice…sometimes even stupidity.
So, I began sharing stories and video clips that reflected a different reality, and asked them to rethink their assumptions and write reflectively about what they had seen and heard. The success of these forays, and the way my kids responded so thoughtfully, led me to expand the idea into Stories From Our World.
Last week, I asked my kiddos to view the following clip:
What are your thoughts? Who among these children stood out to you? Why?
Needless to say, the children in Room 202 responded with their usual perceptiveness and huge hearts:
As the video played the photographs shown of the children before the bedroom is shown is already a sign of what their living situations might be like. You could see sweat on some of their faces. One little girl was crying. In the picture of the child from the Ivory Coast you could just see sadness and fear in his eyes, it was like he was staring into your soul or something, you could see everything he was feeling behind his eyes. It was so mesmerizing
One word that really stood out to me, was “appreciate”. Even though it wasn’t in the video, I now know that we should appreciate what we have in this world. No one gets everything that they want and some people get nothing. But I learned that you shouldn’t nag about the smallest things in life. Next time when I don’t get what I want, I will be looking back to this and asking myself “Think about these kids who are younger than you. They have nothing, yet we have nearly everything.”
One of the children’s names was Ahkohxet, and she was the first person in the slideshow. She must have such a troubled life. To me, she looked almost Native American, because of the two red paint marks on her chest. But then I realized that she lived in Brazil, and when I think about Brazil, I think about the movie Rio, set in Rio de Janeiro. I don’t exactly think of Brazil being a poor country, but as I did further research, parts of it are. It hurts to think about how much pain she must keep bottled up inside of her. No child should ever go through such a thing. Another child who really got me thinking, even though they didn’t stand out as much as Ahkohxet, was Kaya, a Japanese four year old, with a beautiful room in Tokyo. She got me thinking of the contrast between the lifestyles of the several kids. While Kaya’s is beautiful and fragile, Jazzy’s is delicate, and Alex’s is run down. The children are all so different, yet so similar: they all want a nice home. Even the ones who already have a nice home, they still *hopefully* appreciate what they have, and will never let go of that. I know I won’t. Every day for the rest of my life, i’ll appreciate what I have. I’ll never stop thinking about those kids. I’ll never stop wondering what it will be like for them in their adult years. I’ll never stop having hope.
What a deep video! You see children from all around the world just like us, but God didn’t send them as much luck as he sent to us. There are rich and spoiled children that just want more, but there are some children who need more. There’s a difference in want and need, and this video is a reminder of that.
This video was incredibly sad, but nonetheless I wanted to find out more. I did a little research and found out that 2.5 million children in America are homeless. That’s about 1 out of every 30 children. That just blew my mind, how much poor and alone children there are. I found out a lot by watching this tragic yet interesting video.
I read through my students’ responses, and was (as always ) moved by their commitment to our project, by their willingness to look closely, stretch their thinking, revise their assumptions, and allow their questions to inspire further research. Sometimes, I worry that I’ve taken away too much time from their “regular” Slice of Life Story opportunities, but, when I read through these SFOW slices, I know in my heart that this is time well spent.