Tuesday, November 20, 2007

do you know how it feels? when another world touches your skin
and you are not here anymore but elsewhere? and this elsewhere
feels more real. it makes you want to stay. but you can't.

reading Linda Hogan does this to me.

this morning, some freshmen students have started to present their creative projects. someone from Samoa decided to introduce the class to her indigenous practices. she put on tribal markings on her face, don a Samoan dress, sang a welcome song, and a warrior/haka chant. usually shy and quiet, in those few minutes she showed her pride and power as the descendant of a tribal chief.

i felt this powerful energy through the goosebumps on my arms and back of my neck.

another student, the daughter of a mother who marched alongside Martin Luther King and Malcom X, wrote a poem about the need to keep telling the story of struggle and liberation.
"I am Your Story" -- was the powerful line that answers her repeated question: "Who will tell our story?"

an older third student spoke of her six-year sojourn in Brazil at a permaculture institute where she learned to integrate spirituality with "living lightly on the earth." she brought samples of the handmade leather bags she makes, beadwork, and samples of corn, corn mush, and squash from her organic garden. she attends a Native American church, also called 'peyote church,' with her Navajo boyfriend.

belatedly, i realized that these presentations need to be recorded and documented. luckily, a student has volunteered to do this and will post it online later. i'll tell you when...

half of the students in this class are first generation, low income, high achieving, mostly students of color; some are non-native English speakers. i've often thought of the whiteness of the classroom/university norms and how they struggle to fit in. they tell me this is the only class where they feel a little bit at ease. i love their spontaneous responses that remind me of the "call and response" in Black churches. I love the high energy that they can barely contain as they struggle to understand linear cognitive concepts. they challenged the white students in the class with their candid questions and their attempt to bordercross...which was received enthusiastically by some, but not all. some were tepid, hesitant, uncomfortable...in a good sort of way.

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