Some of the most difficult questions for anyone at any age to answer are: Who am I? Where do I fit in? What is my culture and how do I express it?
As part of Vancouver Biennale’s Big Ideas project http://www.vancouverbiennale.com/learn/ I am working with grade 4-7 students and teachers at General Currie Elementary school in Richmond. Our theme is exploring identity in all of its shape, sizes and disguises and the factors that influence it. Using drama, spoken word, mask making, digital photography and technology (Book Creator on i-pads), we are mining our inner artists and discovering ways in which to share our feelings, thoughts and concerns in the hopes of finding connections in our diversity and empathy and enlightenment to bridge what may or has divided us. These are definitely BIG IDEAS.
We will be visiting the Biennale installations A-maze-ing Laughter and Engagement in Vancouver’s West End to inspire and inform our explorations. How do we relate to one another? What makes us the same? Different? What language does laughter come in? What is ‘relationship’ and how can we strive to improve our relations at home and abroad?
We began with who we are, the hope being that in understanding ourselves and those closest to us, we can then venture into imagining ourselves as others and tapping into their voices…the voices of immigrants, refugees, historical characters, a community of people then and now, as well as build positive visions for the future.
Using drama and the I Am Poem format, all students dove deep. Many of the student poems struck me, many words and phrases provided perspective into the hearts of my neighbours. The one below, in particular. Written by a grade seven student, it captures, not only her present day experience, but what could have been the experience of those who went to residential school or those Japanese Canadians who were displaced during the war. It speaks to feelings we all feel as humans and to hope. So profound, moving and beautiful, this word…hope. Enjoy.