Thursday, November 15, 2012

Viaje virtual con muñecas de papel

Virtual Travels through the Hispanic World with Paper Dolls
A Geography Lesson

We're planning a new project about countries in the Hispanic world in the Spanish Club at my kids' school.  We are making "Flat People" (kind of like a "Flat Stanley" paper doll) wearing traditional Latin American clothing.  For an example of a traveling paper doll project, see:

Here's What We Did:
I photocopied a paper doll cutout (see PDF file below):

In advance, parents sent in a headshot photo of their child and signed a permission form so they would know the photo would not be returned, and to give their consent for sending the paper dolls with photo faces around the world to visit my friends.

During class, I wrote words on the board for the art supplies we used, and asked kids to come to the front table to request what they needed by saying, "Necesito _____________."

  • Papel de construcción (de color rojo, verde, amarillo, café, etc.)
  • Una muñeca (la fotocopia)
  • Los colorines
  • Las tijeras
  • El pegamento
  • Unos colorines (un Crayon de color________)
I told students I would not share my supplies unless they asked me in Spanish.  I urged them to ask each other in Spanish for borrowing tools at their tables.  We repeated the supply list aloud before getting started on the project.

The kids colored clothing for our paper dolls, and then attached each child's photo face to his or her "Flat Self".  I wrote to several of my friends and family in Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina, and Spain to ask if they would be willing to receive a package of our Flat People.  I invited these Spanish-speaking friends to pose in a picture somewhere in their city with the Flat People, and then to email their photo back to me so that our Spanish Club kids can see where "we" have traveled around the Spanish-speaking world.  As we talk about the map of the Spanish-speaking world this week, sending their paper dolls to real people in real countries is bringing the geography to life for them.

When the dolls were complete, at the end of our Spanish Club meeting, I invited the kids to come to the front of the room to place their dolls in the pre-addressed envelopes to be sent around the world.

I sent home a map and asked parents to help their child to find the countries together, and to decide whether they want their paper doll Flat Self to go to Barcelona, Spain, Costa Rica (2 locations), Baja California in Mexico, Mexico City, or Argentina.

 The paper dolls have made their first stop in Tijuana, Mexico.  They visited the Hidalgo Market where vendors are preparing for Christmas celebrations with figures of the Nativity for decorating their homes in time for the Posadas. 

Finding Host Families 
I wrote to a few friends in Costa Rica, Argentina, Spain, and Mexico to enlist their help with hosting these paper dolls.  Here's my note:

Querido/a _____,

Quisiera pedirte un favor. Tengo un grupo de niños en un "club de español" en la escuela de mis hijos. Quiero que hagan unas muñecas de papel para enviar por correo a diferentes partes de Latinoamérica. Podría enviarte un paquete de muñecas de papel y pedirte que les saques una foto para enviarme por Facebook o por email? La foto de las muñequitas se podría tomar en un lugar de tu barrio, o una visita que haces a una tienda interesante, o en algún lugar de interés turístico en la ciudad. Podría ser una foto con tu familia o tu casa. Después de sacar la foto, podrías tirar las muñecas a la basura--- no me las tienes que devolver. Ya habrán servido su propósito de llevar a la clase en un viaje virtual.

Si tienes tiempo para recibir un paquete de personitas hecha de papel, déjame saber. Gracias por considerar la idea.


They all said yes, and now the kids have been assembling packages of paper dolls.  We mailed the first set of paper dolls yesterday! 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

DREAMer Deferred Action Event:

The Valparaiso University Immigration Law Clinic is hosting an event for DREAM-eligible youth and their families about the Deferred Action program.  You're invited!

Are you a DREAMer?

If you entered the U.S. before your 16th birthday and are under the age of 31, you may be eligible for Deferred Action. With Deferred Action, you cannot be deported for two years, and you can obtain a work permit. 

The Valparaiso Immigration Clinic helps people who cannot afford a lawyer with their immigration law cases.  The Valparaiso Immigration Clinic invites you to our community forum on Deferred Action. At the forum, we will:

·         Explain what “Deferred Action” means
·         Help you to figure out if you’re eligible
·         Teach you how to apply for Deferred Action
·         Help you decide whether you need a lawyer to assist with your application

Where:           Valparaiso University School of Law—Tabor Classroom
                        656 S. Greenwich St.
                        Valparaiso, Indiana  46383

When:             Saturday, November 10th, 2012
Check in:  12:30 p.m.
                        Session: 1:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m.

¿Es usted un DREAMer?

Si usted entró a los Estados Unidos antes de cumplir los 16 años y tiene menos de 31 años, puede ser elegible para la Acción Diferida. Con la Acción Diferida, no puede ser deportado por dos años, y se puede obtener un permiso de trabajo.

La Clínica de Inmigración de Valparaiso ayuda a las personas que no pueden pagar a un abogado con sus casos de inmigración. La Clinica de Inmigración de Valparaiso le invita a nuestro foro comunitario sobre la Acción Diferida. En el foro, haremos lo siguiente:

    Explicar lo que significa “Acción Diferida”
    Ayudar a averiguar si usted es elegible
    Enseñar como solicitar la Acción Diferida
    Ayudar a decidir si usted necesita un abogado para ayudarle con la solicitud

Lugar:            Valparaiso University School of Law Classroom-Tabor
656 S. Greenwich St.
Valparaiso, Indiana 46383

Cuándo:         Sábado, 10 de Noviembre 2012
Hora de llegada: 12:30 p.m.
Sesión: 1:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Thanksgiving, Memories, and El Día de los Muertos

For El Día de los Muertos, we're enjoying "Pan de Muerto".  Papa brought home a loaf in the shape of a person.  The kids can't wait to have a bite of the melt-in-your-mouth sweet cake.  We talk about the red sugar, a color which represents life and health since Aztec times.  In the wake of Halloween, El Día de los Muertos, Reformation and All Saints Day can easily get glossed over.  But we stop to talk about these fall holidays and to blend cultural traditions. 

For every month of the year, when we shop at our Mexican grocery store, there are special foods, in-season produce, and seasonal treats.  Day of the Dead food and decorations are especially delicious, colorful, and different from other U.S. holiday traditions.  While Halloween costumes in recent years have tended toward the grotesque, the terrifying, and the bloodier the better, el Día de los Muertos celebrates death as a part of life.  The joyful calacas, artistic representations of dancing skeletons are dry bones---not dripping with blood, not scary, but joyously clickety-clacking around town, and living it up.  El Día de los Muertos brings the dead back to life.  Everyone knows that it's wishful thinking, but for a night per year, there is joy in pretending and remembering and savoring the favorite foods and drinks of family members who aren't at the daily dinner table anymore.

When I lived in New York City, we belonged to a church that rented space in a seminary with more progressive theology than the renting congregation.  The seminary had a Day of the Dead altar on display with skulls, flowers, candles, and recuerdos of deceased loved ones.  On Sundays, the pastor's wife brought tablecloths to cover up what she saw as inappropriate ancestor worship.  Some norteamericanos are freaked out by a holiday that brings death so closely into the circle of life.  Protestants tend to keep their crosses empty, and are turned off by the detailed descriptions of bloody sacrifices.  How can we be a bridge between cultures, and how can El Día de los Muertos be made more accessible?

My students on Friday observed that we don't have a U.S. holiday to celebrate the dead.  Memorial Day comes closest.  But what is missing is the commemoration and enjoyment of the daily joys of living and breathing--the moment by moment experiences that make up quotidian pleasures.  In the sense of sharing time with favorite food and family, and remembering years gone by, maybe Thanksgiving comes a bit closer.

When my grandpa died, he and Grandma had chosen to plan for a memorial service rather than a funeral.  We got out his favorite Hershey's chocolate hat.  Having that small piece of his daily wardrobe brought back floods of memories, of how he pulled chocolate kisses from our ears, and made s'mores up at the cabin.  We made a book of his favorite recipes to display.  And we felt close to him and recalled many fond memories of his life--the daily blessings that he was quick to enjoy and share.

El Día de los Muertos isn't a satanic ritual.  It is a family gathering to cook the foods that bring back memories.  It's a celebration of the little joys that make life worth living.  It's a conscious effort to remember and stay close to the human blessings that God provides.  As we savor our bedtime snack tonight, we're giving thanks for our whole family history.