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By Martha L. Rodriguez
When we were reading these short stories as Rosa, When Jessie Came Across the Sea, Fry Bread and Letting Swift River Go, stories written to children, each of them about different topics of American culture, I discovered with surprise how a simple reading was able to communicate with depth and power the values and feelings of American people.
We found points in common with each main character of these stories, it was interesting to hear my classmates telling stories about memories of their countries, families, and feelings in connection with these stories. At the same time we had the opportunity to learn about American history.
We learned about the fortitude and power of American tribes to maintain their traditions and customs in spite of the circumstances like displacement to others territories and the introduction or penetration of modern culture, and their struggle to transmit their heritage and their knowledge about the land, nature and their ancestries to their new generations.
We also learned about the strength of an ordinary woman who demanded equal rights for all, inspiring with her voice to thousands of people across the country and generating peaceful protest fighting for social changes and the end of skin color segregation.
With Jessie we had the opportunity to learn the story of an immigrant who represents the history of hundreds of thousands of immigrants around the world who, like her, face their fears and bravely overcome obstacles such as differences in language and culture to start a new lifetime with faith and hope for a better future.
Each one of these books were an interesting and pleasant way to learn American culture and history. We need knowledge of the past because the history permits us to learn how human society evolved. If we know our past we can understand our present and future. The knowledge of history not only enriches our general culture but also gives us tools to improve our critical thinking.
- Martha L. Rodriguez
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New Hampshire Humanities programs are made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this these programs do not necessarily represent those of the NEH or New Hampshire Humanities.