This unit was created by Educators from Thrive Community Charter School, as part of the 2021 cohort of The 1619 Project Education Network. It is designed for facilitation across approximately 1-2 weeks, or five 90-minute class periods.
- How does place or homeland define and shape us? How do we know who we are?
- To what extent is querencia more than just a place or homeland?
- What responsibility do we have to be stewards of our and others' querencia?
- How can the idea of querencia and self-naming help us and others in creating a culture of belonging?
- Students will be able to apply the terms belonging, querencia, labeling, self-naming, and otherness through personal art, writing tasks, and discussion
- Students will be able to understand their peers and the lived experiences of others in a deeper and more meaningful way while also coming to understand the importance of deep and meaningful connections across differences
- Students will understand the four kinds of naming and the impact name calling and self-naming has in empowering and disempowering
Background & Context for Teaching
Querencia means a beloved place. It can be our homeland, it can be a person or our family. It is where we feel honored, safe and secure and also where we feel challenged and experience growth.
“In Spanish, la querencia refers to a place on the ground where one feels secure, a place from which one’s strength of character is drawn. It comes from the verb querer, to desire, but this verb also carries the sense of accepting a challenge, as in a game.
In Spain, querencia is most often used to describe the spot in a bullring where a wounded bull goes to gather himself, the place he returns to after his painful encounters with the picadors and the bandilleros. It is unfortunate that the word is compromised in this way, for the idea itself is quite beautiful-- a place in which we know exactly who we are. The place from which we speak our deepest beliefs. Querencia conveys more than “hearth.” And it carries this sense of being challenged—in the case of a bullfight, by something lethal, which one may want no part of.
"I would like to take this word querencia beyond its ordinary meaning and suggest that it applies to our challenge in the modern world, that our search for querencia is both a response to threat and a desire to find out who we are. And the discovery of a querencia, I believe, hinges on the perfection of a sense of place.”
-- by Barry Lopez, The Rediscovery of North America, p.14, Orion Summer, 1992.
This unit is designed to introduce students to the idea of place and belonging. It is important for students to explicitly work to develop a sense of self and awareness of their own querencias while also introducing students to the concept of otherness—we all come to our own knowledge of history and place from varied experiences and have a responsibility to self, to others, and to place in terms of how we understand and create space and belongingness for all members of our community. This unit is perfectly suited to be a way for students to connect in a meaningful way while gaining a deeper understanding of themselves and their classmates at the beginning of the year.
Student presentations that incorporate the elements of the individual lessons: map, song, poem, vision board
Students will work on each portion of the presentation during individual lessons. Students should be provided feedback at the end of each lesson and the teacher can score elements as the lessons progress or wait until the final end product to score. Teachers should use the included scoring guide for feedback and grading.
One-to-two-week unit plan for teachers, including pacing, texts and multimedia resources, graphic organizers for student projects, and performance task for the unit. Download below, or scroll down to browse the unit resources.
|Book Excerpts||“The Rediscovery of North America” by Barry Lopez, pp.14, Orios Summer 1992.|
|News Reporting||“Pueblo Returns to Traditional Name” by Ann Constable, The New Mexican: A local news article about the renaming of Kewa Pueblo and its historical significance for the New Mexico community.
“Between Two Rivers: Searching for Omar Ibn Said,” by Jennifer Berry Hawes & Gavin McIntyre: A Pulitzer Center reporting project that retraces the life of Omar Ibn Said, the writer of the only surviving autobiography penned in Arabic by an enslaved person in America.
|Essays & Poetry||"Chained Migration" by Tiya Miles (The 1619 Project): A short essay about the enslaved Black people that were relocated by their enslavers as white settlers displaced Native American people and moved into the American West in search of more land.
"Fort Muse" by Tyehimba Jess (The 1619 Project): A creative work set on July 27, 1816 when American troops attack Negro Fort, a stockade in Spanish Florida established by the British and left to the Black Seminoles, a Native American nation of Creek refugees, free black people and fugitives from slavery. Nearly all of the soldiers, women and children in the fort are killed.
“Where I am From” by George Ella Lyon: A poem from the collection "Where I'm From, Where Poems Come From." (Poem Reading & Visual)
"On the Question of Race" by Quique Aviles & Michelle Banks: A duet poem from the Rediscovering America publication by Rethinking Schools.
|Videos||Robert Mirabal from Taos Pueblo: A short video about Robert Mirabal, an internationally respected Pueblo musician and Native American flute player and maker from Taos Pueblo, New Mexico.
Voices of the Stop Tererro Mine: Former NM Lt. Governor Roberto Mondragon shares a story about how the community he grew up in along the Pecos River polluted by chemicals.
|Mapping Tools||Round Me: A platform for taking virtual tours. (Round Me Tutorial)
Story Maps: A platform where people around the world post "home stories" or short anecdotes about a place they define as home.
Common Core ELA Anchor Standards
Key Ideas & Details
- R.1: Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
- R.2: Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
Craft and Structure
- R.4: Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
Production & Distribution of Writing
- W.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
This unit was created by Educators from Thrive Community Charter School, part of the 2021 cohort of The 1619 Project Education Network. It was implemented with students in Minneapolis, MN in Fall 2021 and will be implement with students in Santa Fe, NM in Fall 2022. As final project for the unit, students who experienced this unit in Fall 2021 wrote their own "I Am" poetry, naming their querencias and places of belonging. Below you will find a few stanzas from a selection of student poems and pdfs that allow you to read each poem in full.
I am a part of his story and he will be a part of mine. I am the lessons he’s taught us and the daughter of his sister and the cousin to his daughter. I am his memory on repeat and the songs he used to dance and sing to. I am the sounds of the sirens and his last breath and the overwhelming feeling of grief on a sad and painful day. I am my uncle's niece.
From "I Am (Finding Me)" by MO, a high school student in Minneapolis Schools
I’m from where if you dont got heart you don’t make it
Where if you don’t protect they’ll take it
The smell of steel fresh from the mill
The smell of my sis getting down on the grill
From "I Am" by MTB, a poem by a high school student in Minneapolis Schools
I am from
Representing my regalia and dancing at pow wows.
Showing off my moves and having fun in these rounds.
Showing my Bright blue color of my regalia
From "I Am" by SB, a high school student in Minneapolis Schools
I am Mexican, from Puebla and Minnesota.
Independent and hardworking
Different types of brown tones
We are butterflies, always showing our beauty.
From "I Am" by AS, a high school student in Minneapolis Schools