In Expeditionary Learning, expeditions are built around an academic topic. The Ancient Civilizations expedition served as an opportunity for our 7th grade students to learn about the roots of our shared humanity.

Beginning in the classroom, students divided into small groups to research ancient civilizations around the world. Tasked with the job of teaching one another, each group identified a people to research and write about.

Using our growing library as the primary resource, the students researched topics including the social hierarchies of the civilizations, the importance of clothes in establishing it, and the history of textiles.

The project’s focus then shifted to the diversity of the indigenous peoples in Guatemala and their common thread of colorful textiles. Providing a way for our students to understand their own culture and traditions, this project also gave them a platform to practice speaking and sharing their own narratives about family members with weaving experience.

Outside of social studies and arts, the expedition also used math and science, tying together our core curriculum. The students used the non-traditional mathematical measurement “cuerda” and worked on a project weaving together “petates“, a traditional tapestry for sitting on the floor.

In celebration, family members of the students visited Safe Passage and shared how they weave using their own hand looms. For the students, it was a great opportunity to feel proud of their family history and skills, and for the guests, a way to pass on their traditions and knowledge.

To finish the expedition, students wrote essays on the experiences of the weavers. These reflected their academic growth. It also builds upon a core Safe Passage community philosophy: respect of history, of community, and of oneself is crucial to a healthy life.