“Dispatches from the Road”
The world is my classroom and my children’s. We are currently on the road with my parents in Williamsburg, Virginia. With its colonial village, nearby Jamestown Settlement, and Yorktown, the historical triangle, commemorates the time of the very first colonists to the Revolutionary War. Each spot has its costumed interpreters and specific hands on children’s activities, making it a great spot for living history for all our family.
What I would like to discuss here is the spirit of making the world your classroom. Whether it is exploring different places in your community or the world; bugs or horse; dinosaurs or discos, it is easy to be a student in the world’s classroom. Your local library is an excellent place to begin your journey. Programs on bugs and dinosaurs are library mainstays for budding scientists. Historical lectures and book clubs are perennial favorites for adults. Under the Nioga, Pioneer, Monroe County Library System and Buffalo/Erie County library systems, Western New York is fortunate to have many local library branches, with many diverse programs and great collections from all over the world.
Another way to be a student in the world’s classroom is to open your door to new ideas, new cultures, and new people in your vicinity. Western New York is a terrific place for cultural festivals, particularly in warmer weather. This holiday season is an excellent time of the year to learn about cultural traditions of others. Why not take in a program on Kwanza, Hanukkah, or the Epiphany if it is unfamiliar to you and your family. You can also explore different ways of living by taking day trips to different parts of Western New York. If you’re a suburban person, check out the country. If you are a country person, venture into the city. Try on a different place for the day and taste the city, country, or village living, just as you might on a faraway vacation. Stop at the local historical society’s museum, to gain a sense of history of the pretty hamlet you travel through. Pull the car over and take some photos of the sun catching the hills and the creek beds a certain way. Try the local farmer’s market and have local cuisine, just as you might boldly sample foods from somewhere far away.
In the winter when your downtown for a Sabres/Bandits game, take in a meal of tapas in the Elmwood Village. The downtown Rochester area has it’s own unique set of venues if you are catching and Amerk’s game. Take in a Buffalo or Rochester Philharmonic concert or great jazz at the legendary “Colored Musician’s Club” in downtown Buffalo, where the likes of Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holliday once played, as you might in New York, New Orleans, or Chicago. Or in Rochester explore the history of a city that was once a hub for the largest illegal – even traitorous – resistance movement of the 19th century. Its citizens spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and put their lives and personal property at risk helping with the escape of fugitives from across the country. Sadly the rust of the region often ‘rusts the memories’ and aspects of historical significance are being lost. There are tremendous cultural treasures all around us in Western New York just waiting to be part of your international classroom experience. Support the area you live in and I know you’ll be amazed at the wealth of knowledge and education you will receive.