I am adjuncting a course this semester called Global Systems and Societies. The course provides a nice wide umbrella to discuss all things related to globalization, politics, societal shifts, and other forces of global change. One theme that I have been consistently emphasizing is the danger of only hearing one perspective, one voice. Whether it is developing students’ media literacy, exposing them to opposing viewpoints, or merely showing students that there are different facets of our world, educators play an invaluable role in developing the next generation of critical reasoners and leaders. It is also essential to show students that in those varied voices, they can find their own and feel included. Finally, as researchers, we must value the many voices that gives us differing perspectives of phenomena and lived experience to make our research as complete as possible. One of my favorite TED talks is from Chimamanda Adichie, who warns of the danger of only hearing one narrative in a world of billions.
Recent discussions with a dear friend about the joys of road trips have centered on equipment one needs to have along. Yes, of course one’s bicycle. But how about a folding kayak along in case a cool lake or stream beckons off some blue highway? Do they work I wonder? More to the point do they leak? Is there a Consumer Reports evaluation of kayaks that fold? Days later I notice, in one of those charming, tiny ads in the back of a New Yorker, a description of a folding bike. Hmm, I work with a professor who swears by the one he brought in Shanghai. The ad in the New Yorker is for the British Folding Bike, which sounds kind of posh, but does it work? Somehow things that fold seem a bit suspect, promising more than they can deliver? Nonetheless it’s charming to think about having something, small and portable, that is capable of blooming into something as useful and liberating as a bicycle or a kayak.
So I am off on a “things that fold” amble. I always liked the phrase “above the fold,” connoting the importance of a newspaper article that the editor runs “above the fold.” In our Internet charged world of fragmented news perhaps “above the fold” has lost some of its cache. Newspaper layout, requiring editorial savvy, is upturned on the web.
Recently, my mom, sibs, spouses, and assorted offspring all reunited for the first time in a long time. Seven years to be exact. Somehow, we all managed to negotiate the time off and navigate shuttles, airports, customs, rental cars, and driving on the left side of the road to arrive safely in one (beach) place to celebrate my mother’s 75th birthday. (Full disclosure, I have a weakness for movies that come out around Thanksgiving and depict families in full dysfunctional swing. Mmmm – some recognition there? ) We had a wonderful, grand time as they say in Newfoundland – some glorious highs, a few predictable lows, but mostly enjoying ordinary, everyday moments spent catching up on each other’s lives.
We’re a family of readers, so book swaps are inevitable when we get together. I was just finishing “Cutting for Stone” by Abraham Verghese. It came out of my backpack a bit rumpled and a lot dog-eared, but my brother laid claim to it immediately. My mom was unpacking in the next room, so she re-gifted her copy of “Annabel” by Kathleen Winter. I finished the first that evening and relished the second over the course of the week; on the beach in early morning, late at night, and in quiet moments above the family fray.