A fellow blogger who teaches high school suggested that Show and Tell can work for people of any age. I scoffed at first glance and then thought about what I would bring. I thought about the Homer Simpson toy my son got from Burger King. It had been a late Parent Teacher conference night and Joel hugged me one-handedly. When I asked what he was hiding, he pulled out a plastic-wrapped Homer Simpson toy and smiled. It was unexpected, unprompted and thoughtful.
When the students begin, most of them hide their items. It’s the opposite of kindergarten, with students refusing to speak up in front of their peer group. Finally, an outgoing student jumps out of his seat and flips out a football. “It’s the first one I ever caught in a real game.”
Slowly, they begin to open up. “When my mom was sick, she couldn’t get a babysitter to watch us. So, I watched them while she stayed at the hospital. She said the blessed Virgen de Guadalupe would watch over us. I’m not sure where superstition meets religion, but she handed me a sacred or lucky or whatever necklace.”
Another girl says, “Our tribe has been conquered, but the jewelry and the stories are our inheritance.” She then begins telling the story of how her family makes the necklaces and earings and what it means to be adorned by the earth.
“This is a key from my hometown in Mexico. My parents knew they were risking it to cross the border and cross back. But they wanted me to see that the place I come from is beautiful. People think Mexico is all ugly, but this place is real pretty.”
The essays accompanying the items are thought-provoking and personal, but it is the convergence of the public and the personal that helps us understand community in a way that we never had before.