GO North Gives Student Opportunity to Connect Cultures
Published on July 3, 2014
• Early Childhood Ed major connects Cree and Jamaican cultures
• Learns valuable lesson for working with students
|Just try. The words Susquehanna University rising senior Nadia McCallum heard while on her Global Opportunities (GO) trip to Fort Albany, Ontario, harkened back to her youth. She’d heard the same from her grandparents when visiting them in Jamaica—more than 2,300 miles away.||
See Susquehanna for yourself
McCallum, an early childhood education major from Brooklyn, N.Y., has grandparents who still live in Jamaica and she goes back every summer. She was struck by how closely the culture of the Mushkegowuk Cree culture in Fort Albany, a village mere miles from the banks of the James Bay in northern Canada, mirrored what she experienced in Jamaica.
“It was amazing for me that despite how far north we were, I could relate to them,” McCallum said. She saw other similarities between the two cultures. “We both value our grandparents or our elders. The dialects of both cultures also add to the richness of the stories they tell. ”
‘Close-knit and unique’
The GO North trip, which is one of 25 GO Short trips that take place during summer break each year, is a chance for Susquehanna students to volunteer with and for community programs in the Cree village.
These include placements in the school, where Nadia helped out, social service programs, like setting up a fresh fruit and vegetable stand, and the hospital. At the same time, the Cree villagers are welcoming and ready to share their culture with the students. Because of the travel distance, the number of students who embrace this opportunity is small, making the experience intimate. Those are the same reasons McCallum was first drawn to Susquehanna. “Every time I walked into the education office, I saw a poster for GO North,” she said. “I picked it for the same reasons I picked Susquehanna—it seemed interesting, close-knit and unique.”
Learn by trying
While in Canada, McCallum confronted a truth about herself—she wasn’t always quick to try new things. But surrounded by curious second graders, she found herself saying the very words her grandmother used to tell her, just try. The students were encouraged to try and spell unfamiliar words, and if they were still unsure, she told them to underline the word to show their teacher they had at least attempted it on their own. In doing that, McCallum learned a valuable lesson for her career as a teacher.
“This trip reminded me that it’s okay not to have a plan for everything,” she said. “As a future educator, it’s something I should make a point of in my classroom—to just go ahead and try.”