“Nuestro Norte es el Sur”
Estas palabras del artista uruguayo Joaquín Torres-García acompañó este dibujo famoso del América del Sur al revés.
One of the habits of mind essential to creating sustainable communities is to seek to understand and value multiple perspectives. This doesn’t mean tossing aside our own perspective; it means considering other points of view to help us achieve a clearer picture of reality and discover insights into our relationships with others. As an added benefit this practice invites our better qualities such as humility, curiosity, openness and courage. Qualities sorely needed to tackle the tough problems facing our planet and its inhabitants.
Actividad #1: ¿Cómo ves el mundo?
I’ve found it helpful to have two maps hanging in my classroom. One is a mapamundi in Spanish, the other is the What’s up? South! map.
Students compare and contrast the maps: from language, to colors, to the positions of the countries, etc. Is one right or wrong? Is there any information missing? Why? If two people were conversing and each had different maps–but didn’t know it–what might be the challenges? During the year a quick reference to the maps helps us remember to look at issues from multiple angles, listen more closely to others and describe more carefully our own perspectives. Maybe someday someone will produce a map in which all countries are named as they name themselves!
Actividad #2: ¿De dónde son tus cosas?
“Mi camisa es de Guatemala,” “Mi computadora es de China,” “Las manzanas son de Chile.”
A simple activity for beginning level students is to recycle the “¿De dónde es…?” structure with a variety of vocabulary, such as clothing, electronics or food. Students can check labels and the class can keep track of the origins of the items by marking on a world map. (A push pin and a string leading to where students live would work.) Students can write a simple summary of the data collected or even create a bar graph in Spanish. Are there any patterns that emerge? Why? It may be eye-opening for some students if they need to do a bit of research to discover the origins of the materials needed to make everyday items. For more numbers practice, students can describe the distances to the places of origin of their items. A visual reminder of our interconnectedness can make cultural projects and current events more relevant.
More advanced students can take on la mochila ecológica (el pasado) and the eventual destination of our stuff after its use (el futuro). More on this to come in a future post!