The seventh grade curriculum at Davis Waldorf includes a visit to exotic places such as South America, Africa, and the South Pacific islands. As part of our studies in Renaissance history, we will be taking a look at the impact of global explorations by European explorers to the New World. But before the conquistadors set foot on these distant lands, the seventh grade is introduced to the geography of these places and how it defines the culture of their inhabitants.
Being Filipino, I decided to take the children to the Philippines for a week. Well, perhaps, more accurately, I took the vibe of the islands to them. The Philippines Islands is an archipelago of 7000 islands on the rim of the Pacific Ring of Fire. Its tropical climate, rugged shorelines, and active volcanoes is home to a mix of people of aboriginal origin, Malaysian descent, and Spanish blood. It is also home to forests of bamboo, a natural resource that is widely and creatively utlilized by the Filipinos.
The seventh grade built models of "bangka paraw," a trimaran that is effective as a fishing boat in shallow, choppy waters. We also did the "tinikling" dance, the national dance of the Philippines. And what better way for the seventh graders to experience life in the Philippines than to hear it from people who had lived there in their childhood. I invited my parents to share their experiences with the seventh grade. My dad described games he played as a child and the blooming courtship between him and the love of his life, my then would-be mom. Their courtship was a classic Romeo and Juliet story, and it piqued the interest of my 12 and 13 year old students! We ended the morning lesson with a few Tagalog words that my mom wrote on the board, such as "mahal kita," meaning I love you.
Then we sampled a dessert called "halo-halo," or literally, mix-mix, that I prepared for the students. It is an assemblage of tropical flavors of coconut, sweet beans, jackfruit, purple yam ice cream, and other assorted toppings, mixed together with sweet milk and ice.