As part of a study of the American colonies, we have kids imagine they are going to a ‘new world’ and brainstorm what they would bring. They imagine they have a suitcase to fill with items they’ll need to survive. This in itself is funny enough, as you contrast the kid who is packing ten bottles of conditioner with the kid who is bringing a solar-powered water filter. (My assistant and I have created an ‘Apocalypse Survival Team’ of the kids we would want on our side when the end comes.)

Once their group discussions had progressed to the point that they had convinced each other that no, they could not bring a dog in a suitcase and have it live, and that having an iPad when there was no electricity was not a good choice, and that if you must bring conditioner you probably did not also need hair oil, they had things narrowed down. Most groups decided they would bring seeds, so then the group discussion became what kind of seeds.

During group work, I rotate between groups giving guidance, asking directing questions, and stopping by my desk to eat snacks. I passed one group in time to hear this: “Listen, we only need two crops: rice, and beans. Trust me, you can live on that. It’s the Dominican way.” That made me smile.

On my next time with this group, I walked in on a heated discussion between the Dominican girl and her Chinese friend. Should they bring black beans, or soy beans? “You can make tons of stuff from soy beans, like tofu. It’s more than just beans.” The first scowled. “You don’t eat tofu with rice.” Her friend threw her hands up in air and shouted “You don’t even know what you’re talking about!”

At this point, I was trying not to laugh. What a great display of cultural identities coming together! Meanwhile, one of the other students in the group was sitting there with a thoughtful look on his face. This kid is extremely Irish- Dad was born there, has a very Irish name, visits frequently. He suddenly gasped, reached over to grab the drawings of seed packets they had made,  and said “Oh my god, you guys! POTATOES!”

I had no way to explain to them why I was doubled over laughing. I think they think I’m insane.