Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Culture, A Natural Resource

My daughter Francesca goes to Lehman Alternative Community School, a public school but run a bit differently. Most importantly, the kids are required to do a lot of community service.

This year she chose to be in a Family Group (read Home Room) that partners with The Akwesasne Freedom School of the Kanien'kehá:ca (Mohawk) Nation in Massina, New York.

 The Akwesasne Freedom School is a Mohawk language immersion elementary and middle school  founded in 1979 to maintain Mohawk language and help revive the traditional Rotinoshón:ni culture.  Their kids come to visit our school, and in May our kids go and help with projects at Akwesasne.

Last weekend I went downtown to have a look see at the First People's Festival. I would have gone anyway, but my main goal was to bring a coffee to my daughter who was manning (or should I say womaning) a booth.

I was happy to see my daughter involved in this long-standing partnership with the Mohawk school, but I was even more impressed by their handouts.

Yes, handouts.

"Culture is a natural resource that is just as important as our air and water."

As an anthropologist, they had me at the first sentence.

"Just as diversity in genetics and species is vital to survival, diversity of cultures ensures a sustainable future."

I stand on the hill in our town trying to convince college students of the value of knowing other cultures, and here, in a High School handout, the critical value of culture was spelled out in a simple sentence.

I also drag my kid all over the globe to see other cultures and chatter endlessly in her ear about how important it is to experience and understand how people in other cultures think.

But apparently I can now stop all that because she will be off to The The Akwesasne Freedom School and not just observing and taking notes like an anthropologist but actually engaging in another way of life and getting to know a people and their culture.

Wish I could go.

and p.s. the Freedom School could use your donations since that's their operating budget. Send to Friends of the Freedom School, P.O. Box 290, Akwesane Territory, Rooseveltown NY 13683 USA

1 comment:

LittleOwlCrunchyMomma said...

What wisdom. Wish I could go, too. Visiting other cultures (whether overseas or next door...) even for a few short hours can change you for a lifetime. Wish I could go with her, too! :)