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Units March 10, 2022

Querencia & Belonging

Lesson Summary: Students use The 1619 Project and other resources to develop a sense of self and awareness of their querencias (places of belonging) while also learning about how folks have historically been othered. Downloads: Thrive full unit
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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.

Essential Questions

  1. How does place or homeland define and shape us? How do we know who we are? 
  2. To what extent is querencia more than just a place or homeland? 
  3. What responsibility do we have to be stewards of our and others' querencia? 
  4. How can the idea of querencia and self-naming help us and others in creating a culture of belonging?

Objectives

  1. Students will be able to apply the terms belonging, querencia, labeling, self-naming, and otherness through personal art, writing tasks, and discussion 
  2. 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 
  3. 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. 

Unit Overview

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. 

Performance Task

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.

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