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I have been an elementary and secondary school teacher and administrator. Currently, I am a faculty member in the Faculty of Education at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. My M.Ed. and Ph.D. had a focus on the educational and linguistic experiences of children who moved from other countries to Canada.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Imagining "roads under rivers": Reflecting on glocal perspective building

Years ago, I remember arriving at the Port au Prince airport in Haiti and having a great conversation with Jimmy, the person who picked me up. As a young person who had never been out of Haiti, he wanted to know about life in Canada. I'll never forget two questions that Jimmy asked:

"Dr. Sider, is it true that in Canada you have roads that go under rivers?"

It took me a few seconds to understand what I was being asked... tunnels!

After I tried to explain the utility and purpose of tunnels, he asked me another road question:

"And is it also true that you have roads that go over top of other roads?"

Again, it took me a few seconds to figure out that he was referring to highway overpasses.

We had a great conversation that day about perspectives. I took tunnels and overpasses for granted but for Jimmy, they were outside of his lived experience. He could only imagine what it must be like to drive under a body of water or for one highway to cross over top of another one.

Over the years, I've remembered that conversation with clarity. It has kept me mindful of the assumptions we make and the importance of engaging in dialogue. Too often, we are silent when we don't understand why someone acts or talks like they do. We are hasty in our judgement. We distance ourselves from "the other."

Jimmy's questions led to a great discussion about similarities and differences between Haitian and Canadian roads. On a deeper level, the discussion helped us both realize that despite our differences, we had much in common.

This is a lesson that I wish for the world.

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