Retrace the transatlantic journey through historical sites in Africa, Europe and North America to create multi-modal, 3D virtual learning experiences that allow students to deepen content knowledge and make personal connections to the past and its continued relevance to our present.
Standing in the Door of No Return and bathing in Donkor Nsuo, the slave river where my ancestors took their last bath in their native land before enduring the harrowing middle passage to North America is an experience that words fail to encapsulate. The duality of feeling so close to my true ancestry and feeling even further away from knowing those ancestors by names that were lost in the murkiness of the river in which I stood found a resting place in the cool, stillness of the river that day.
I discovered that I am able to endure a lot more challenges and adversity than I thought. I may shed a couple of tears, but I can definitely make lemonade out of lemons. I learned how to embrace walking in my authentic self and unique perspective no matter what continent I'm on or who I'm talking to. I believe this has made me a better advocate for my students and my profession.
Black hair, natural black hair and black hairstyles are very political in the US. Black women in professional spaces and black girls in educational spaces often have to contend with other peoples perceptions of our hair and hairstyles and it's proximity to European standards of beauty. In Ghana, I got my hair corn-rowed. I threw away the straight-haired wig I had been wearing and embraced a style I love. It was empowering to see Black women in all stages, ages and professions rocking their hair.
One of the first activities will open up conversation and challenge engrained narratives and stereotypes about Africa for my students in order to set the stage for further conversation. As I show students pictures from my trip, they will answer Ghana, UK or US for where they think I am. All of the images will be from Ghana, but as students see me at the beach, in front of skyscrapers and museums, it will contrast the stereotypical ideologies and images they have of Africa.
Knowing the desired outcomes of my fellowship I was able to make plans in advance for vlogs, images and artifacts I wanted to acquire so I could curate learning experiences my students could truly connect with. I shot unnarrated videos that students will be able to view using our virtual reality headsets that will allow them to experience the sights and sounds of my trip for themselves.
I have loved sharing live and reflective moments from my fellowship with hundreds of other people through my educational blog and social media platforms. I use this experiences and artifacts from this experiences to talk with other educators about place-based learning and how we can make history come alive for students by engaging all five senses when we leverage our own experiences and share them with our students.