Today we began with 2013 Arbor Day activities. The first group of students from this year’s class (Issues in World History: African Diaspora) planted the first trees– about 40 of them.
As with other years, I tried to explain students the rationale behind this activity.
1- My intention is that through a practical (hands-on) activity students would learn about some unintended effects of the process of industrialization, its impact on the forests (why most trees around are young), and how this also helped spark the movement for reforestation (i.e., National Parks).
2- Part of the lesson is getting students involved in local communities, as a historical lesson that highlights both the ethos of Black communities across the diaspora and the political aspirations of new nations.
3- Most importantly, I hope they would appreciate the differences (and similarities) between the way people thought and lived in the past and how we do today. For students living in a society that emphasizes individual needs rather than that of the community it is often hard to comprehend how people would have constructed societies that depended on a communal ethos to survive–to give back to community without expecting nothing in return.