BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
While I was excited to go to Bhutan and have my Bhutanese students show us around their country, I was nothing but nervous for my students and school to enter into the United States of America. Naively, I wondered how I was going to possibly get all of the history of our country into 4 short months. I say naively, because the United States of America is a young country with a shorter history than most of the countries we are lucky to travel to. In that short history, however, the United States has had a tremendous impact on world affairs, and has become the young super power and the worldwide police force.
In order to teach a full version of American history and culture I decided to choose two contrasting topics in American history and then allow the students the opportunity to choose what else they would like to investigate and incorporate amazing speakers like Noam Chomsky and Greg Simon. We began with the colonization of the New World and progressed through to the American Revolution. Students were asked to move from local to global when we studied the American Revolution. In pairs, they created Prezi’s to showcase other Enlightenment-inspired revolutions. These then led to a discussion of the then-recent Arab Spring revolutions. In the District of Columbia, we met with Greg Simon to discuss American
politics as we moved from the past to more contemporary issues.
We looked at the Civil Rights Movement and took the students to famous Busboys and Poets and Ben’s Chili Bowl. Stemming from the conflict of the Civil Rights Movement, and learning about the atrocities committed against Native Americans, the students were ready for their unit on American identity.
I used our trip to New York as our transition to a unit on American identity as ‘Doers and Fighters.’ A family-friend, John Busching, met us at the Ground Zero memorial, where he explained his role that day as an Emergency Services Officer who risked his own life to save another. He recounted his heroic story of being buried under the rubble in the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001. I felt that his story portrayed some of the quintessential American heroism that I, as an American, have always been so proud of. We left John at the memorial and went to the Ground Zero Museum Workshop, where we looked at the artifacts that remained from that terrible day.
To embody John’s and the American ethos of being ‘doers and fighters,’ I enlisted the help of Peter Welch’s Gym in South Boston to train our students in American pugilism. To balance out the academics and the physical learning students learned from a spoken word poetry workshop with acclaimed poet and educator, Taylor Mali. Lastly, check out my video of our Leave no Trace Kayak Expedition in Chewonki, Maine.