Tuesday, February 3, 2009

How My Parents Learned To Eat by Ina R. Friedman

Katrina Tattoli

Profs. Bree Picower & Dyan Rozier

28 January 2009

Book Club book #1

Book: How My Parents Learned to Eat by Ina R. Friedman

Link: http://www.amazon.com/Parents-Learned-Sandpiper-Houghton-Mifflin/dp/0395442354/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1232917890&sr=8-1

Summary: A Japanese schoolgirl and an American sailor fall in love while he is stationed in Japan. They are both embarrassed to eat dinner with one another, since she does not know how to use silverware, and he does not know how to use chopsticks. When his ship is about to leave the port, each of them attempts to learn more about the other’s culture and gain an understanding of the dinner etiquette. The result is a multicultural family that uses all kinds of utensils.

How to use this book: It is told from the child’s perspective, encouraging students to write about their families’ unique cultures. It also is a story of persistence, since both characters failed at first when attempting something new. Students can take it from a historical perspective and consider the cultural impact of soldiers in foreign ports and the resulting multicultural landscape.

Domains of social justice:

Self love & acceptance: Students can be encouraged to tell stories about their own cultures, and grow to accept a multicultural heritage with this powerful model. The girl telling the story loves her Japanese and American heritage.

Respect for others: Students can learn that although some other cultures may have different ways of greeting, eating, and teaching/learning, all can be honored and respected. The characters in the book are a great model of respect another’s culture.

Exploring issues of social justice: Students can discuss racism and xenophobia regarding styles of eating, dressing, and other culturally diverse actions. They can recognize from this book that not all people who eat with chopsticks are Japanese, and not all people who are Japanese eat with only chopsticks.

Social Movements and Social Change: This book can be applied in a historical lens; students can learn about discrimination and social action from the perspective of multiracial children growing up in a time when the Japanese were blatantly and nationally discriminated against.

Taking Social Action: Students can institute a "New Utensils" Day in the cafeteria, urging students to try something new and use chopsticks in eating. This can raise awareness of the fact that not everyone can naturally do things that may be second-nature to others depending on culture.

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