International Struggles for the Whole Child (and a pretty song)

Earlier in the summer, I was asked to attend a conference in Santiago, Chile regarding a new pedagogical movement to embrace the Whole Child based on teachings of Paolo Freire. I was nervous, since my Spanish is still a work in progress – my mother is from Panama, but she never taught her children her language (the loss of the native language in immigrant families is a subject for another day). But I wanted to connect with these passionate educators from my heart.

Here is a rough translation of the video:

I want to speak from my heart. After Hugo Yasky’s speech yesterday, I threw my notes in the trash. What he says is true. I live in a society where as the economy is better and better, the poor are more and more poor. The middle class is disappearing.

I have seen with my own eyes the results of economic systems that reward the few at the expense of the many. I was a teacher of homeless children; children who were living in their cars. I know what such systems leave behind.

I see movements. Pedagogical movements. Women’s movements. Movements to advance rights of the poor, for democracy, for greater opportunities… all is connected. When I started my career as a teacher, I was naive and thought that all I needed was to be a good teacher, and all would be fine with my students. But children who are without food; without homes will not be fine. We need a movement that connects to justice. And our part, which focuses on education, is just a part of a greater movement that makes us more and more human beings and less and less tools and parts of a machine. We must struggle for the community.

I want to end with something strange. I am a student of Spanish and I know that I must find many ways to learn. I like to sing, and to sing is a great way to learn another language. I want to share with you a song from a great Chilean singer and fighter for justice, Violeta Parra.

“Gracias a la Vida (Thanks to Life)”
by Violeta Parra

Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto.
Thanks to life that has given me so much

Me dio dos luceros que cuando los abro
It’s given me two eyes that when I open them

Perfecto distingo lo negro del blanco
perfectly see Black from White

En el alto cielo su fondo estrellado
In the highest heaven it’s deep stars

Y en las multitudes al hombre que yo amo.
And in the crowds, the man that I love.

Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto
Thanks to life that has given me so much

Me ha dado el oido que en todo su ancho
It has given me the hearing that in all it’s breadth

Graba noche y día grillos y canarios
records night and day crickets and canaries

Martillos, turbinas, ladridos, chubascos
hammers, turbines, barks and storms

Y la voz tan tierna de mi bien amado.
And the tender voice of my love.

Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto
Thanks to life that has given me so much

Me ha dado el sonido y el abecedario
It’s given me the sound and the alphabet

Con el las palabras que pienso y declaro
With it, the words that I think and declare

Madre, amigo, hermano y luz alumbrando
Mother, friendo, brother and burning light

La ruta del alma del que estoy amando.
The path of the soul that I am loving.

Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto
Thanks to life that has given me so much

Me ha dado la marcha de mis pies cansados
It’s given me the marcho f my tirad feet

Con ellos anduve ciudades y charcos
With them I walked cities and puddles

Playas y desiertos, montañas y llanos
beaches and desserts, mountains and plains

Y la casa tuya, tu calle y tu patio.
and your house, your street your backyard.

Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto
Thanks to life that has given me so much.

Me dio el corazón que agita su marco
It gave me the heard that shakes

Cuando miro el fruto del cerebro humano
when I see the fruit of the human mind

Cuando miro el bueno tan lejos del malo
When I see the good so far from the bad

Cuando miro el fondo de tus ojos claros.
When I see the depth of your clear eyes.

Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto
Thanks to life that has given me so much.

Me ha dado la risa y me ha dado el llanto
It’s given me laughter and it’s given me weeping

Asi yo distingo dicha de quebranto
So that I can tell luck from grief

Los dos materiales que forman mi canto
The two things that make up my song

Y el canto de ustedes que es el mismo canto
And your song is the same song.

Y el canto de todos que es mi propio canto.
And the song of all that is my own song.

Gracias a la vida.
Thanks to life.

2 Responses to “International Struggles for the Whole Child (and a pretty song)”

  1. Amy Barton

    Lily, me encanta tu versión ! Esta canción ha sido una de mis favoritas cantada por Joan Baez , pero ahora la suya es “allá arriba” también! Gracias maestra, por todo que haces.

    ~Amy Barton, de UEA (Presidente Local de Washington County)

  2. Jacqui Ochoa

    Lily, you inspire me and give me hope! Your leadership is so important to teachers now. We are struggling unlike anything I’ve witnessed in 25 years of teaching. It is a battle each day to stay hopeful in a professional world that can be so grim. It isn’t the children. They are as lovely as ever. They too give us hope. It is the political and social elements in our world that make going to our workplace feel like quicksand. You are a lifeline for us right now. A ray of hope that we, and this profession, will survive and come out the other side of this storm with healthier and happier. Thank you.


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