New understanding turns simple observation into meaningful perception. -Eric Lin
The beginning of all of our classes includes a discussion on food and our connection to the Earth. Our intention is for the students to take a deeper look at all the Earth provides, and envision stewardship as deeper than recycling or picking up trash, to reconnect with nature and form a more intimate relationship. We are sometimes surprised, we have to admit, that these students are more removed from this understanding than we expected. Ghana is still a predominantly agricultural society, and while many of these students’ families do farm, many of them do not.
One of our essential questions this exchange is, Who are your farmers? There happens to be a wrapper of biscuits (crackers) on the floor. We inquire where they think they are from, and the response is resoundingly, Ghana. The rise in the globalization of food has also reached these shores. As it turns out, the biscuits are made in Nigeria. There is a gasp of shock in the room. At home we are also tracking the sources of our consumption and have discovered that some products such as juice, sugar, cheese and butter come from Egypt, South Africa, Germany and France. Outside of these products, and a few snacks we brought from home, our food purchases, made on Market Days, are almost entirely Ghanaian and mostly regional.
People around the world differ in many ways, but [lunch} unites us. – Hungry Planet
Cliff Valley students in Atlanta came at this subject from many angles. The 4th graders, inspired by Hungry Planet photos of What the World Eats, shared what they eat for lunch, with photos of their meals. Fifth graders made beautiful hands with images of their favorite foods inspired by henna hand paintings. The 6th graders dug deeper into what agriculture is produced in different states, and created their own culinary atlas.
In return, EP students are taking the same look at food, what their favorites are, where they come from, and what fills the schoolyards during break. There are fewer options here, and a ton of commonality of favorites – kenkey, banku with okra soup, fufu, and rice and beans. While recipes are a foreign concept, they do know what it takes to pound fufu, or make okra soup over a coal pot. We try to snap photos of students during second break at 12:30, but quickly realize that they eat their main meal at 10:30 during first break. We wonder how this meal satisfies and energizes them through a scorching afternoon in classrooms with tin roves, and forty plus bodies crammed together in a sauna-like and stifling environment. Students escape their classrooms periodically to scoop warm water to drink from pails throughout the day.