Summer of 2021 came with a newly kindled hope. Vaccinations were widely available in the U.S.. Restaurants were reopening; outdoor concerts resumed; people were getting out once again; the CDC announced that if all were vaccinated, perhaps we didn’t even need to wear masks. For this brief moment of respite we came together again in person for an Habla Teacher Institute for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.
We wanted to make this experience as memorable as possible. For us that meant moving from a “high tech” to a “high touch” experience. Toffler warned us in his book Future Shock that, as technology advanced, we would have access to increasing amounts of information. He warned that in such a digital world we must be equally mindful of creating “high touch” experiences, in order to keep us grounded in a physical sense of community.
After a year and half of living on Zoom, we wanted our time together to be one of tactile experiences – we wanted to balance our high tech time with an institute that was high touch. Hence we first chose the theme of water focusing on the core text We Are the Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom and beautifully illustrated by Michaela Goade. The visual arts team created a host of experiences involving making art with water, from paper marbling to painting with watercolors. Our musician in residence from Mexico City, Darío Bernal Villegas, introduced us to water drumming and we experimented with ways to collaboratively create soundscapes with found objects and pools of water. Picture the scene. The sky was cloudy and air thick with barely a mist of drizzle. Kids swimming pools were set up outside. Teachers in small groups selected random found objects such as empty bottles, hoses, pipes, and pots. They gathered around the pools. They splashed together, they played together, they laughed together, and they created and performed together.
As we moved through our planning we realized the theme of “protection” was just as important as the aesthetic of water. What do we protect? How can we protect our world? our students? ourselves? each other? These powerful themes of water and protection were the catalyst for one of the most powerful and moving weeks we’ve ever experienced as a community of educators.
Much gratitude to the Habla community and Summit communities, to all of our extraordinary teachers and students for being resilient and maintaining, despite all the challenges, a great sense of Alegría and hope. In the words of We are the Water Protectors:
With our songs
And our drums.
We are still here.