Thursday, April 5, 2007

In honor of National Poetry Month, I'd like to post one of my favorite poems. This one's by Kipling and it was read by last year's OELA (Office of English Language Acquisition) Keynote Speaker, and cultural consultant for Nickelodeon's Dora the Explorer: Dr. Carlos Cortes. Incidentally, Dr. Cortes also began his speech talking about a little island in Micronesia called Saipan, and the important role that second language played in the life of the late Guy Gabaldon during WWII. He spoke of honoring the pluribus and honoring the unum. He spoke not just of multi-culturalism, but of belonging. When I find my notes, I will post more about that remarkeable day. My colleagues and I sat there, among thousands of other participants with our heads held high, proud to have been associated with such a hero and to have been mentioned in the midst of the nation's leading educators.

We and They

FATHER, Mother, and Me
Sister and Auntie say
All the people like us are We,
And every one else is They.
And They live over the sea,
While We live over the way,
But - would you believe it? - They look upon We
As only a sort of They !

We eat pork and beef
With cow-horn-handled knives.
They who gobble Their rice off a leaf,
Are horrified out of Their lives;
And They who live up a tree,
And feast on grubs and clay,
(Isn't it scandalous?) look upon We
As a simply disgusting They!

We shoot birds with a gun.
They stick lions with spears.
Their full-dress is un-.
We dress up to Our ears.
They like Their friends for tea.
We like Our friends to stay;
And, after all that, They look upon We
As an utterly ignorant They!

We eat kitcheny food.
We have doors that latch.
They drink milk or blood,
Under an open thatch.
We have Doctors to fee.
They have Wizards to pay.
And (impudent heathen!) They look upon We
As a quite impossible They!

All good people agree,
And all good people say,
All nice people, like Us, are We
And every one else is They:
But if you cross over the sea,
Instead of over the way,
You may end by (think of it!) looking on We
As only a sort of They !

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