From eight days to seven generations – August 12, 2019

August 19, 2019

As we reflect upon the final day aboard the Denis Sullivan, we recall the excited and smiling faces of those whom we welcomed during the Festival of Sail to tour our temporary floating home and visit the Great Lakes education stations we manned along the lakeside. Although these experiences appeared temporary, we understood the lessons learned would last our lifetime– professionally and personally.  In the beginning of our journey, Nikki Crowe shared with us a core value of the Ojibwa that has haunted my mind and struck a chord with my own core values of sustainability and conservation. The Ojibwa use a model for decision making and development taking into consideration how the decision will affect their people or remain sustainable for seven generations. Not years, generations.

The following day we cleaned our bunks, packed up our scattered gear and left for life on land again converging one last time at UMD  to set action plans in place to infuse knowledge gained on board into own our classrooms, programs and lives. We met with our mentors and pondered how we can live up to Ojibwa expectations of creating lasting impressions on our students and positive change for generations to come.  Kelsey Wenner from Fond du Lac Resource Management encouraged us to weave native perspectives into our teaching on a regular basis rather than just “teaching” a unit on any one aspect of Ojibwe culture and moving on to the next unit. Some educators set a goal to incorporate conservation and instill a sense of place, others planned to interweave Great Lake Literacy standards with social studies, and others created cleverly masked math problems with ship board examples.  Do you know how much force is necessary to move two shots of anchor chain? I do. A LOT. We measured it in sweat. Despite the diverse directions our disciplines take us, we agreed that our lessons will incorporate Lake Superior as a source of inspiration, recreation, rejuvenation and discovery.

Finally, the time had come to take our lessons and pack up our computers, notes, and books. We said our weary and sometimes teary goodbyes with promises to write, call or see each other soon, dispersing with optimism and the resolve to take our experience and make a positive difference…. for seven generations? We sure will try.

Fair winds, friends.

Olivia and Michelle