Her twelfth and tenth grade students have been assigned this week to find a work of art, a poem, a sculpture, a book, an example of architecture, a scientist, a philanthropist, a dancer, or musician from Haiti, El Salvador, or any African country. After proving their knowledge of the findings, they will present it to the class. Outside of Sietz’s classroom will be a display of the examples her students come up with.
To avoid controversial political discussion, Sietz focused on the contributions and beauty of the countries, rather than talking about politics. “I’m not talking about immigration policies or bills or laws, but rather the language that not just our president, but others have used that I think is pushing us back from where we were, particularly in regards to racism and sexism,” Sietz said. “Those are things that I feel are pertinent to our atmosphere as a classroom as well as all of the texts that we read.”
Sietz is hoping to gain an understanding among her students that a perception of a country’s worth isn’t always accurate and fair, especially in the United States right now. “There is beauty to be found in every corner of the world, so we can’t judge by the face of a country,” Sietz said.
Sietz’s assignment sparked a similar project with Laura Davis’ French classes at Skyline. “I had heard that Ms. Sietz was doing an assignment like this, I thought that it would be relevant with how many of the countries that are in Africa that are French speaking,” Davis said. Davis used a similar non-political approach, exemplifying the beauty within the countries.