“How do you know who you are, if you don’t understand where you come from?”

Forums 2023 Summer Seminar Belonging 2023 Summer Seminar Responses: due JUNE 8 (or earlier) “How do you know who you are, if you don’t understand where you come from?”

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    • #31772

      I’ve had so many thoughts while reading Nora Krug’s book Belonging. The absolute power of heimat (and what a powerful concept of place, home, family, and belonging). The importance of knowing our histories and the difficulty in learning those histories. The juxtaposition of big and complicated issues with some of the elements of a graphic novel. I thought about what it would look like to teach this book and the themes in it. I thought about what this story looks like in America with Native American stories. It was really so much going on in my brain that I will need (yes, need) to read this again.

      One of the lessons in Krug’s story is that sometimes we just cannot definitively know an answer about our history, as much as we might search. I felt this story as a multigenerational Montanan on Native land. There is a messy history between the pioneers and the tribes in Montana. I felt this story as a 2nd generation American on my mom’s side. My grandma was a teenager during WW2, her family coming from Wiesbaden to America after the War. Lori was 16. I did not have a very positive relationship with her. From my perspective, she tried to erase her past. She did not talk about the War or about Germany. Even if she was alive today, I would not be able to ask her about her experience. Surely, though, she would have played some sort of role.

      All of us come from complicated histories. I imagine all of us search for heimat and search to understand who we are.

    • #31781

      You make a very interesting connection to Native Americans. That is certainly true for all displaced groups in history. I would consider teaching the novel in class, too, or at least the concept of “heimat.” It could be a way for students to express their identities and sense of self or individuality in the classroom.

    • #31817

      Yes, Bridgett I like your title in response to Nora’s book. We all have stories, and it’s important to understand our jouneys from our lived experiences. This seems to be a theme in our work this Summer. “Who Am I” is a complicated questions and has contours that are sometimes difficult. Imagine if we took the time to ask the same questions of our students. Do we really take the time to know our students as well as we want to know ourselves?

      • #31820

        Yes! We have to be authentically ourselves in the classroom, but we also need to learn who our students are and recognize their humanity.

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