Tag Archives: Africana

International Pen Pals

Greetings,

Today, my son received his first letter (via email) from a boy his age in Senegal.  This is the first time that my son has ever had a pen pal, and he is really excited about it.  I have been researching international work exchange (volunteering with a family, business, or NGO in exchange for room and board) and found a sweet homeschooling mom in Senegal who needs help with her children for a semester or so.  If things go well with our children getting to know each other, maybe we will stay with her family for a little while to gain a different experience of the world.  (If you are interested in opportunities like these, visit workaway or  HelpX.)

Benefits of a Pen Pal

senegal1

Having a pen pal can help our children to learn more about their selves and about the world.  They can also practice reading, writing, and typing skills in the process.  You can tie in lesson plans on English Language Arts, Geography, and Social Studies easily into your children’s pen pal writing assignments.  For instance, they can learn about the terrain and weather in their new friend’s country, the history, the culture, and the literary classics.  Also, they have fun playing the games and sports that their friend abroad plays.  Best of all, you can try the delicious international foods together!

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Over the next week, my son and I will learn more about Senegal at the library and on the internet so that we can better understand his new friend’s country.

Finding a Pen Pal

If you would like to get your children started with International Pen Pals, there are several sites that can help.

Students of the World: Etudiants du Monde (Students of the World) is a French non-profit association, whose aim and ambition is to open the doors of the world’s cultures to young people. If you are a student, then the website will  propose you pen-friends who are the same age as you, in the countries of your choice. Then, you will be able to discover new cultures, exchange ideas, stamps, postcards, improve your knowledge of a foreign language, and why not decide later to travel there ? The database includes 250,000 pen pals from 220 countries, 4,000 blogs, 7,000 clubs, 2,500 pen pal groups, many forums, educational games, 248 schools from 57 countries, and cultural information about 234 countries & territories (including 234 forums, 532 touristic pictures from 65 countries and 750 “virtual tours” views from several countries).

Global Pen Friends: Global Penfriends Internet Friends Club specialises in Postal and E-mail pen pals from all around the world. Their members are REAL people of all ages, looking for pen friends. Registration and profile submission is free. Their goal is to create a comprehensive listing of people from all over the globe who are interested in communicating with other people, whether it be for friendship, cultural exchange, language, travel or education.  The site is family friendly and developed with Safety in mind. People of all ages are welcome here and can search for new contacts in a safe and friendly environment. All profiles on our system are manually approved for language and content.

My Language Exchange: My Language Exchange is the effort of Helene Cormier and Dan Yuen to help people all over the world learn, practice and become fluent in a foreign language.  Together, they decided to use the Internet to bring the benefits of language exchange practice to people all over the world. In October 2000, MyLanguageExchange.com was launched. This was an online community that has since helped thousands of people find language exchange partners and improve their second language.

Pen Pal Safety:

There are some basic rules that you can follow to keep your child safe when writing to a pen pal.

1. Choose reputable websites.

2. Use Skype or other video chat software to verify that the person you are writing to is a child.

3. Don’t arrange to meet with anyone without having had extensive conversation and doing some of your own research.

4. Never send money to anyone.

5. Don’t respond to requests for sensitive personal information (i.e. copy of your passport, social security numbers, etc…)

The sixth rule here should be HAVE FUN, but I already know that you will do that. :D

I hope that your children have a great time with their new pen pals.  Let me know how it goes!  We will do the same.

All Best,

Nikala Asante

 

Chimamanda Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story

Chimamanda Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story

Greetings,

I have sometimes heard people say, “Isn’t education just education?  There is no Black or White education… it’s all about what works.”

By the same token, I have heard people say, “Literature is just literature.  It’s not Black or White.”

Some even go as far as to say labeling education or literature by race or culture is “racist”.  (Sidenote: Culture is what is important here.  ”Race” is a social concept based on phenotype.)

So, let’s talk about culture.  Which cultural group is predominantly central to modern education and literature?  The answer is obvious: Anglo-Saxon culture.

This is not accusatory, it’s just a fact.  If you take an English, History, or Math class, you will learn about Shakespeare, the Greeks and Romans, and Pythagoras.  You will be less likely to learn about August Wilson (a great African American playwright), the ancient empire of Mali, and Imhotep (the first known physician – an African).  If you are a Black student, you see Europeans being great throughout history.  Yet, your “history” is limited to a handful of heroes and heroines spanning from Harriet Tubman to President Barack Obama.

Let’s talk about literature.  One can attain a PhD in literature without reading more than a few Black authors.  How many literature students are required to read from the African Writers’ Series or the Norton Anthology of African American Literature outside of those specializing in Africana Studies?

If you are a Black student, should you not read more literature reflective of history and cultures of the African Diaspora?  Would that not grant you a greater understanding of your modern plight?

Would a well-balanced education with account of Africana contributions to all disciplines not grant you greater knowledge to solve modern Africana problems?

With these questions in mind, please enjoy this wonderful video by Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie on the danger of a single story.

Teaching Ancient African Civilizations During Black History Month

Teaching Ancient African Civilizations During Black History Month

Greetings,

One consistent major issue of American education has been the lack of Black History set before Africans were enslaved in America.  Ask an average child what Africans were doing before before slavery and they will most likely have no idea.  Worse yet, they may believe that Africans were “savages” and had no civilizations before America.

One site that I enjoy for teaching Ancient African History is Mr. Donn.  As a scholar, I do not agree with every detail about every civilization that he covers, but he provides an adequate amount of balanced history.  The civilizations of Egypt, Kush, Ghana, Mali, and Songhay are covered with outlines of their daily lives, entertaining stories, powerpoints, maps, free clip art, and activities.

I do not agree with the accuracy of all the images included because none of the ancient Egyptian images are Black.  It has been proven by Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop that the early Egyptian dynasties were ruled by Black Africans (read: The African Origin of Civilization by Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop).  He even did melanin tests to validate these claims.  There were also Egyptians who appeared as Caucasian or Middle Easterners do today, both of African descent and from migration of foreign peoples.  I believe that Egyptians of all skin tones should be portrayed, for sake of accuracy.

Thus, I would encourage you to use the histories, enjoy the activities, and not to take the images at face value.  Have a wonderful Black History Month.  May our education on the histories of Black people around the world truly advance!

All Best,

Nikala Asante