Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Leaving Everything?

I'm back from a weekend in the woods, where I took one of my classes on a ten mile hike on the AT and a jaunt through an abandoned WWII POW (later church) camp that has since been reclaimed by forest.

Central to our experience was using travel narratives to explore social studies content (in this case we modeled a westward expansion unit). We searched for meaning in attempting to uncover the truth and emotion behind the question, 'what does it mean to leave everything behind and travel into the unknown?'

I'm struck by the depth of the question, even unintentionally, as we think of those lost in nature, lost in themselves, or those that left their home for war and found themselves not in Germany, but in a small county in Pennsylvania, in the middle of forest, with nowhere to go for miles around. What drives us to to make these choices? What drives others to make these choices for us, whether politicians or land-owners, slave masters or tribal chiefs?

Survival is central to this theme, but then I wonder...where does learned helplessness fit? Not everyone survives....what allows some to make the impossible journey and what holds others to doom and death?