We were very fortunate to join a group of educators for a Friends Beyond Borders Social Justice Tour through the Dominican Republic earlier this summer. We loved exploring and learning more about a stunningly beautiful country as well as getting to know and collaborating with other educators.
Our trip covered so much ground and inspired a lot of reflection, so we will most likely be coming back to it in many future blog posts. For now, here are a few key takeaways:
- Diverse authors: My main context for background information about Dominican history and culture came from Junot Diaz books. This background helped me make connections and build upon previous knowledge. This is why diverse authors and voices are so important! Also, (sidenote) why do I know so little about a country the US has occupied twice in the last century?
- The “developing” world: How do we understand poverty in different contexts? How can we talk about vast discrepancies in standards of living in other communities with students without dehumanizing or “otherizing” people experiencing poverty? How can we balance between confronting the reality of socioeconomic inequalities and simultaneously avoiding one dimensional interpretations or conceptualizations of a nation or people?
Columbus’s legacy: his actions and racist policies still affect ALL OF US today. Part of the motivation for the genocide of the Taino people was to make way for African slaves. Also, “extreme” poverty in the developing world is not an accident. It is related to historically racist policies!
- Economics: we study Economics with our fifth graders and learn all about the labor force. After visiting the Alta Gracia factory, these issues came to life for us in a new way and now we are thinking about workers’ rights and humane conditions. Also, we need to add a more deliberate action component to this unit as there are real opportunities for activism here! As consumers, we really can vote with our money.
Please let us know your thoughts and reflections. We would love suggestions or just to hear about what or how you are teaching! Stay tuned as we try out some new things this school year!
Subscribe to our blog: