Catastrophe and Resiliency

Sep 30, 2008


Hello Youth Voices Community,

Following last week's Teachers Teaching Teachers Skypecast and my sketchy attempts to nail down some of the ideas that have come from discussions (separate) with Bob LeVin and Joe Bellino about drawing on common texts to build student awareness of 21st century war/revolution/genocide in Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Darfur, etc. – and to provide opportunities for “writing to make a difference,” I am very pleased to see that Paul has beautifully articulated the idea by setting up Catastrophe and Resiliency: A space where we can take a stand against historical and current atrocities, genocides, ethnic cleanings, holocausts, occupations, and wars .A place to share our responses to books and stories about how humanity can not be stopped by these catastrophes, and how we must never again turn away from these disasters. A forum where we can connect around books, stories, and poems at all levels of difficulty and variety, books like Long Way Gone, What is the What? Persepolis, Maus, Night, The Sunflower and other stories of spirit in the face of calamity.

When I saw “catastrophe” in the title, I thought of Inga Clendinnen’s “Catastrophe Tales” from Reading the Holocaust, a piece I was given while at the Summer Holocaust Memorial Institute. With any of the above readings, I think an overarching question is how do we as humans “find the words and images to organize shaking experience into narrative, to bring the extra-ordinary back to the ordinary, the ‘unspeakable’ to the spoken”? …How do those who have experienced first-hand inhumanity on steroids “bridge the gulf between language and experience”?

But add to the Catastrophe group, the photography group and the music group, and whole bunch of other topics that are springing from Youth Voices 2008, I suspect there is a really good possibility that many of our students will connect, read, write, and share – and maybe, in Susan’s words, along the way discover what they are truly passionate about.

I am very much looking forward to sharing this year's Youth Voices journey.