An Activity Guide

Classroom Connections to Homegoing

 Students will use this activity to connect the plot of Homegoing with their own personal life. The purpose of this classroom activity is to connect the theme of family separation through slavery.

Supplies Needed

  • Model Magic, PlayDOH, or similar material
  • String
  • Beads
  • Paper and pencils if needed by students
  • scissors

 

Objectives

  • Recalling family structures from Homegoing to understand family history on contemporary understanding
  • Mapping student family structures to understand their own family unit
  • Experiencing the connections and the effects of slavery on family units

 

Activity Description

  1. The students will begin the class period by freewriting.
    1. The students will use this time to reflect on what their family units look like in the present. The family units the students write about do not have to be biological.
    2. Afterwards, the students will break into pairs or small groups and discuss their family trees and what they represent to them. The values instilled in them based off their family structures.
    3. Once the students finish the discussion, they will talk about the family tree in
  2. The professor will hand out the clay, Model Magic, PlayDOH, or other similar material to each of the students
    1. Students will use the modeling clay to construct trees
      1. The trees will represent their family unit—related and chosen.
    2. Students will then tie beads to the tree branches with the string.
      1. The beads will be used to create “leaves.”
      2. The “leaves” will represent each member of their created family.
    3. Once the students complete their trees, they will use scissors to cut off two of the branches.
      1. The students will be asked to imagine what their family structure will look like if the two most important members are removed.
    4. Students will then break into pairs or small groups
      1. Students will discuss how Homegoing helped influence their decision.
      2. Students will discuss how their lives would be different if the members they chose were not apart of their growth.

Example: Would the students still be able to reach their goals/attend college?

Follow-Up Questions

Discussion questions will help the students reflect on their learning, experiences, and life connections through Homegoing. Discussion questions are an important element to conclude the experiential activity. The questions also help support the meaningful socio-emotional processing of the deep concepts Gyasi covers, and the curricular connections to your classroom.

 

  1. What does family mean to you?
  2. What does culture mean to you?
  3. What does the culture on Millersville’s campus look like?
  4. How does changing family structures affect the success of students/children?
  5. How do broken family units affect the dynamic of Millersville’s campus?

 

 

 

A Letter to Students

Dear Millersville Students,

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, takes a nontraditional approach to teach about the effects of slavery on youth and families. Homegoing is set in Africa, and later America, and explores the generational stories as two sisters were separated due to white settlements and enslavement in Africa, following the descendants through Africa and America.

As students of Millersville University, it is our duty to continue to learn and grow as scholars. One way to do that is to read literature that builds stories that include difficult topics. By reading this literature, students can expand their academics to more than just the classroom. Literature should be used to connect the bridge between students in the classroom and create a diverse environment.

Traditionally in school, students are taught about slavery through the perspective of settlers. However, Homegoing looks at the generational psychological and environmental effects of slavery on enslaved children and young adults. Thus, creating an important, exciting, and thought provoking read.

Students should read Homegoing because it challenges us to think in a creative way. Each student can learn about their own family dynamics and the dynamics of others through Homegoing.

 

Sincerely,

Jessie Garrison

Jessie Garrison, Class of 2019, English Major-Writing Studies

Discussion Questions for “Homegoing”

One of the most valuable elements of reading is talking about reading! The One Book One Campus committee worked with Dr. Emily Baldys and Jessie Garrison to develop the following discussion questions that can be adapted and modified to fit situational needs. This can also be accessed on the Resources page.

Effia & Essi (pp. 1-49)

In Essi’s chapter we learn that Maame, Effie and Essie’s mother had many pieces of her spirit missing. Consider the experiences that make you, as a student, less than whole.

Another theme found in this chapter is family relationships. As a student how does your family relationships affect your ability to succeed as a student? Do peer/peer relationships affect success among college students?

In the chapter there is differences between Effia’s values and her husband James’ values. In what ways does Millersville students have different values? Similar values? Do the differences between values affect the Millersville community as a whole? Do the differences in values affect separate communities?

Maame’s definition of strength is “knowing everyone belongs to themselves” (38). What is your definition of strength? Does the Millersville community help grow your strengths? What tools do you use at Millersville to help yourself grow?

Quey & Ness (pp. 50-87)

Quey, the son of Effia and James, often discussed his struggles on finding an environment where he felt like he “belonged, fully and completely” (57). While Quey finds his sense of belonging through the chapter, how can students at Millersville find their sense of belonging? Is it different for traditional and nontraditional students; commuters and students living on campus?

Quey’s definition of strength is determining “he would not be weak. He was in the business of slavery, and sacrifices had to be made” (69). What do students have to sacrifice to go to college? Are the sacrifices different for not traditional students, parents, not typical college age, transfers? How does Quey’s definition of strength differ from Maame? Does the different definitions effect your response?

In Ness’ chapter there are characters, Esi and Sam, who refuse to speak English while others, Pinky, refuse to speak entirely. How does this affect the relationship between the characters? How does language barriers affect relationships between students on campus?

Ness feels that her scarred skin is “more like the ghost of the past” (4). How do students hide their own ghosts to fit in on campus?

James & Kojo (pp.88-132)

In Kojo first learns about the Fugitive Slave Act, he does not believe it can affect him or his family. What changes on campus has affected you in ways you didn’t think were possible?

In another part of Kojo’s chapter, he teaches his children to show their “free” papers to federal marshals if stopped on the streets. Kojo taught his children to show their papers “without any backtalk, always silently” (125). With the increase in ICE raids throughout the country, how would this tactic affect the Millersville community? If ICE came to campus how would it disrupt the campus? Would it be for the long run or just in the moment?

James’ father Quey feels as if Christianity is for the British and it does not meet his values of his own customs. How does the diversity of different religions enhance Millersville’s campus? How would campus be different without the diversity? How has previous racial remarks on campus affected diversity on campus?

Abena & H (pp. 133-176)

During Abena’s section, there is a village meeting regarding the slave trade. James insists that there is shared responsibility in slavery and that the blame should not just go on the British and Dutch. How does this relate to student’s responsibility in creating an inclusive campus?

Abena also has a relationship with Ohene Nyarko in this section. Consider how the betrayal affects Abena’s everyday life, how can students at Millersville help their peers during unhealthy relationships? What resources are available on campus to assist those in unhealthy relationships?

H was arrested in his section. How does incarceration affect Millersville students’ ability to succeed?

Akua & Willie (pp. 177-221)

Akua begins to have anxiety dreams about a firewoman. How does anxiety and other mental illnesses affect the Millersville community? How does these illnesses affect the minority groups on campus differently than the non-minority groups? What resources are available to students?

Willie’s chapter is set in an urban town in the NorthEastern United States. During this time, Willie and Robert can note on the inequalities that are still present in the north. When moving to Millersville University, what inequalities might a person of color face when they come to the more conservative Lancaster? As a community, what can we do to combat these inequalities?

In Willie’s chapter, the reader can find Willie singing. In what ways can Millersville include music and art from other cultures to promote diversity and inclusion?

 

 

Yaw & Sonny (pp. 222-263)

Yaw argues that “history is storytelling” and “when you study history, you must always ask yourself, whose story am I missing” (225)? On Millersville’s campus what is the student body/professors missing? How can the students and professors hear the whole story?

In the story Sonny goes to jail, what influences, political and personal, lead him to jail, an absent father, and addiction? What affects students on Millersville’s campus to make the same choices? What resources are available? Is the political factors for minorities and nonminority different?

Marjorie & Marcus (pp. 264-300)

Marjorie and Marcus also feel like they do not belong. Marcus, specifically, “searches for answers” (290). In what ways does minority and nontraditional students have to work harder to “fit in” on Millersville’s campus?

Marcus also explains that his ancestors “had been products of their time” (296). In what ways does Millersville’s students’ ancestors affect the behavior of the campus?

Fall 2019 Faculty Adoption

Dear Millersville University Faculty,

Homegoing, written by Yaa Gyasi, is a thought-provoking novel that tells the story of two sisters separated at birth. Homegoing takes place in different villages in Africa, as well as, cities in America through the Civil War and contemporary times. Following the descendants of the two sisters, Gyasi explores stories of displacement due to slavery and the effects it has on families. In addition, the students will learn about the magnitude effects of the whites moving into Africa.

Homegoing can be used as a cross-curricular tool in many classrooms. Not only is it useful in literature and history classes, it is also beneficial in psychology and math classes. Use of literature in nonliterature, or liberal arts, classrooms, aids the instructor and students to use nontraditional material in support of effective and engaged learning. That is, using creativity and collaboration that is practiced through literature instruction is important in STEM classrooms because it helps students become well rounded in all aspects of their fields.

Additionally, it can help be the icebreaker for current events. Homegoing has many elements related to child displacement and becoming an orphan. These concepts are seen a lot in current events related to deportation, immigrants, and refugees and other social justice issues.

Using Homegoing in all classrooms can help connect the bridge to have an understanding classroom through current events and other cultural divides. The following are just some examples of how Homegoing relates to content across the curriculum:

Biology

  • Genealogy
  • Family mapping
  • Recognizing patterns in language and compare it to patterns in science

History classes

  • Pre-Civil War
  • Naturally freed slavery
    • Compare it to naturalized citizens
  • Harlem Renaissance
  • Colonization
  • Segregation

Political Science

  • Current events
  • Immigration (Current and in the past)
  • Racism
  • Gerrymandering

Psychology

  • Long-term psychological effects of displacement on families
  • Long-term psychological effects of physical abuse
  • Long-term psychological effects of emotional abuse

Social Work

  • Current events
  • Discussions of immigration,
  • Long-term effects of displacement on families

Writing classes

  • Literary Theory
    • Feminism
  • Patterns in themes and language
    • Why are two characters named Kojo?
    • What else do the scars represent?

Fall 2019 Spring 2020 One Book Selection

The One Book One Campus committee is pleased to announce the Fall 2019-Spring 2020 One Book selection Homegoing.

We are working to develop ideas to support faculty integration of this title into their courses. Check back to access the curricular materials as we post them.

We Want One Book to be Selected by One Campus

The Co-Chairs of the One Book One Campus committee want to better model the name – in offering a title as a campus read they want the title to have been selected by the campus.

We are happy to announce that Spring 2019 the One Book One Campus committee has selected 8 titles, and we’re asking Students, Faculty, and Staff to vote on the title they would like to read as a community, what stories do you want told, what stories do you want to discuss?

To complete the survey copy this link: https://millersville.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_9n6ToxFD99H0iWx

Further information on each title:

 

From Penguin Random House website:
“Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d travelled too far, if there was still a way home.”

Homegoing, a novel by Yaa Gyasi

From thePenguin Random House website
“Ghana, eighteenth century: two half sisters are born into different villages, each unaware of the other. One will marry an Englishman and lead a life of comfort in the palatial rooms of the Cape Coast Castle. The other will be captured in a raid on her village, imprisoned in the very same castle, and sold into slavery.

Homegoing follows the parallel paths of these sisters and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem. Yaa Gyasi’s extraordinary novel illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy both for those who were taken and those who stayed—and shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed on the soul of our nation.”

How to be you, personal growth by Jeffrey Marsh

From thePenguin Random House website
“An interactive experience, How to Be You invites you to make the book your own through activities such as coloring in charts, answering questions about how you do the things you do, and discovering patterns in your lives that may be holding you back. Through Jeffrey’s own story of “growing up fabulous in a small farming town”–along with the stories of hero/ines who have transcended the stereotypes of race, age, and gender–you will discover that you are not alone.

Learn to deepen your relationship with yourself, boost your self-esteem and self-worth, and find the courage to take a leap that will change your life.”

Robot Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Joseph Aoun

From the MIT Press website
“A ‘robot-proof’ education, Aoun argues, is not concerned solely with topping up students’ minds with high-octane facts. Rather, it calibrates them with a creative mindset and the mental elasticity to invent, discover, or create something valuable to society—a scientific proof, a hip-hop recording, a web comic, a cure for cancer. Aoun lays out the framework for a new discipline, humanics, which builds on our innate strengths and prepares students to compete in a labor market in which smart machines work alongside human professionals. The new literacies of Aoun’s humanics are data literacytechnological literacy, and human literacy. Students will need data literacy to manage the flow of big data, and technological literacy to know how their machines work, but human literacy—the humanities, communication, and design—to function as a human being. Life-long learning opportunities will support their ability to adapt to change.

The only certainty about the future is change. Higher education based on the new literacies of humanics can equip students for living and working through change.”

The Poet X, a novel in verse by Elizabeth Acevedo

From the Harper Collins Publishers website
“Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.

So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.”

Hey Kiddo: How I Lost my Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction, a graphic novel memoir by Jarret Krosoczka

From the Scholastic website
“In kindergarten, Jarrett Krosoczka’s teacher asks him to draw his family, with a mommy and a daddy. But Jarrett’s family is much more complicated than that. His mom is an addict, in and out of rehab, and in and out of Jarrett’s life. His father is a mystery; Jarrett doesn’t know where to find him, or even what his name is. Jarrett lives with his grandparents, two very loud, very loving, very opinionated people who had thought they were through with raising children until Jarrett came along.
Jarrett goes through his childhood trying to make his non-normal life as normal as possible, finding a way to express himself through drawing even as so little is being said to him about what’s going on. Only as a teenager can Jarrett begin to piece together the truth of his family, reckoning with his mother and tracking down his father.
Hey, Kiddo is a profoundly important memoir about growing up in a family grappling with addiction, and finding the art that helps you survive.”

Lab Girl, a memoir by Hope Jahren

From the Penguin Random House website
“Geobiologist Hope Jahren has spent her life studying trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. Lab Girl is her revelatory treatise on plant life—but it is also a celebration of the lifelong curiosity, humility, and passion that drive every scientist. In these pages, Hope takes us back to her Minnesota childhood, where she spent hours in unfettered play in her father’s college laboratory. She tells us how she found a sanctuary in science, learning to perform lab work “with both the heart and the hands.” She introduces us to Bill, her brilliant, eccentric lab manager. And she extends the mantle of scientist to each one of her readers, inviting us to join her in observing and protecting our environment. Warm, luminous, compulsively readable, Lab Girl vividly demonstrates the mountains that we can move when love and work come together.”

In the Country We Love, a memoir by Diane Guerrero

From the Macmillan Publishers website
“Diane Guerrero, the television actress from the megahit Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin, was just fourteen years old on the day her parents were detained and deported while she was at school. Born in the U.S., Guerrero was able to remain in the country and continue her education, depending on the kindness of family friends who took her in and helped her build a life and a successful acting career for herself, without the support system of her family.

In the Country We Love is a moving, heartbreaking story of one woman’s extraordinary resilience in the face of the nightmarish struggles of undocumented residents in this country. There are over 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US, many of whom have citizen children, whose lives here are just as precarious, and whose stories haven’t been told. Written with bestselling author Michelle Burford, this memoir is a tale of personal triumph that also casts a much-needed light on the fears that haunt the daily existence of families likes the author’s and on a system that fails them over and over.”

Feel free to contact the Co-Chairs with any questions.

One Book Unites One Campus

A Guest Post by Leah Hoffman

During freshman orientation, the English department played a role in introducing the campus One Book program, which will continue to have campus-wide activities throughout the duration of the school year. This specific program focused on familiarizing incoming students with the One Book program, reading and writing strategies, and the McNairy Library.  One of the activities held during this orientation session pertained to annotating a few pages of the One Book, All American Boys.

cover of All American Boys
cover of All American Boys

The freshmen were tasked with familiarizing themselves with the text and the library’s resources in a variety of activities. In one activity, students were tasked with reading two selected pages of the book, which had been projected on the wall, and writing comments about what they’d read. Students were challenged to write an original comment, respond to another student’s comment and discuss their thoughts with the members of their groups. This was a task that encouraged interaction with the authors of the text, as well as with their peers. Unlike reading the book alone, another layer was added by the ability to view the thoughts of others who were experiencing the same text in a different way. This sparked meaningful conversation among groups.

Image of students annotating text during Orientation

Being that this was a required activity and a book they had never read, it was unclear as to how the project would be received. Luckily, the students gave very thoughtful and encouraging comments. We had students analyzing what they believed to be the themes of the book, based off the two pages of All American Boys that they were interacting with. They very astutely detected themes of race, prejudice and violence and commented on the authors’ word choices that conveyed these themes.  Students did not shy away from addressing the hard realities that are unfortunately a part of the society we live in.

The reactions and discussions were exactly the goals of the orientation activity and the One Book program as a whole. The selection of All American Boys was a calculated choice to engage the community of Millersville students in the awareness of the reality that race is still an important issue to be conscious of and create a population of contentious citizens who will take these morals into the world.

Students reading through activities at Orientation August 2018

Incoming students began their experience as marauders with a powerful message as to the type of community we would like to foster as a university, both socially and academically. This was of great thanks to All American Boys, the students who participated and the faculty members and volunteers who are instrumental to the program.

International Policy Conference: The Power of Media

On Wednesday October 24th from 3-5pm One Book One Campus joins Dr. Pfannenstiel’s session “Empowered Use: Lifelong Digital Citizenship Learning” at The Power of Media at the International Policy Conference. Join us as we work together to discuss and annotate All American Boys while considering active reading practices.

We want to help students make connections to their active reading practices, and how those practices support digital citizenship and lifelong learning.

We hope to see you all on Wednesday October 24th from 3-5pm in Gordinier Lehr room! Attendance is free and open to the public. For further information visit the website https://www.millersvilleipc.com/index.html.

Critical Reading Strategies

Critical Reading Strategies: A Review of What Students Learned at Orientation

By Professor Michele Santamaria

Reading Robots: Review

  • Visualizing the main points can really help you understand a reading.
  • You can do this visualization by drawing something like a concept map.
  • A concept map, sometimes called a “mind map,” places the key concepts in relation to one another in a diagram that looks something like this:

Making Poetry: Surveying

  • Surveying a text is getting a sense of the “big picture” by looking at the end/conclusion, reading the abstract if there is one, and looking at the organizational structure.
  • In order to make your poem, you had to have a sense of the page as a whole to see what you were working with; this helped you read with purpose.
  • Once you have a sense of “the point” of the reading, it’s a lot easier to not “lose your place” because you have a sense of where it’s headed.

Annotating Texts: Pose Questions

  • In order to annotate a text or comment upon it, you need to be willing to ask questions about it & ask questions of yourself.
  • When reading a textbook or an article, you can make questions out of the section headings and look for answers to those questions.
  • Be sure to write down your questions/answers so you can review the results of your inquiry process.

Finding Your People: Teaching Others

  • The ability to explain a concept to others, to make yourself clear is one of the best ways to test your reading comprehension of the material.
  • Another important skill you used here was making new connections between different concepts. You had to connect your superpowers to each other and to your enemy of reading.
  • When you make new connections between the material and other subject matter, you are also improving your ability to comprehend and retain material.

Many thanks to Orientation at Millersville for including Bibliomarauding! The One Book Committee wishes all incoming and returning students academic success for this upcoming school year.

Please remember that if you want *more* of “All American Boys,” the book we are reading this year, the book is available for free checkout at the library. Simply talk to a student worker at the desk and they will help you find it. Or if you want your own copy, you can buy the book at the university bookstore.

If you have questions about the activities or game design feel free to email Dr A Nicole Pfannenstiel (ambernicole.pfannenstiel@millersville.edu) or Professor Michele Santamaria (michele.santamaria@millersville.edu).

Orientation

One Book, One Campus will be at Orientation!!!!!

While many programs ask students to read the book and hold a brief discussion, we are using our time to invite students to read the book after our event. We want to help students understand the value of reading – so we’ve designed a game!

We look forward to meeting incoming freshmen and transfer students during Bibliomarauding. At this event we’ll play with robots, make blackout poetry, write on texts, and play super hero games to build an understanding and culture of reading.

We’ll post more about future events as they unfold.

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