Monday, April 25, 2011

Viewing the world from different perspectives

As I live and travel through southeast Asia, I am reminded of how a geographer views the world - the earth is seen as a a globe and one can stand at different places around the globe to view it. We value the idea that we have a planet of varied cultures, peoples, and viewpoints. This strikes me forcefully when I watch television here in southeast Asia and as I read local newspapers - the world is seen here in significantly different ways from how it is seen in Framingham or Westfield, or Scituate. Following Middle East events on the BBC or Al Jazeera television compels one to consider that the perspectives presented on CNN or CBS are not the only ones that exist and that have validity. This is an important issue for geography teachers as we work to help our students better understand our planet, its people and places. We should not hesitate to seek alternative views on world events and present these to our students for this is where true learning can take place, as we analyze not one perspective, but differing viewpoints on the same event or place.
This issue was brought home to me very dramatically when I visited the "Museum of War Remnants" in Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam. The perspective on that war is very different from the one that Americans normally see and have accepted.


Here is a link to a site that has some photos of the museum exhibits.
And the impact of Agent Orange on present generations is something that people outside Vietnam give very little thought to. Here in Vietnam, it is a daily weight, impacting health in disfiguring ways.
A reminder that one of the tasks of the geography teacher is to look beyond the surface and explore how and why particular issues are viewed differently and seen as important in varied parts of our planet. 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Travels in Vietnam

Spending a few days in Ho Chi Min City (Saigon) leaves many images in your mind - mostly of a bustling, energetic city. The hundreds of thousands (millions?) of motorbikes are a sight to behold; and there are no traffic rules!
And then there is the Mekong Delta - an area of 15,000 sq miles (larger than Massachusetts) and with a population of about 18 million, most of whom are involved in fishing and farming.
The delta is a geographer's delight with all the issues of physical geography (stream action, erosion, precipitation, and of course, temperature) intersecting with cultural adaptations, using local knowledge to create a thriving region. This is a common scene on the delta, taking agricultural produce (rice, vegetables, coconuts) to market.

With so much to take in, this scene of kids swimming in the Mekong, reflects the commonalities that all share.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Another Domingo Update

Vernon Domingo shared a few more photos and observations with BSU colleagues; some of them are now posted on the BSU Geography blog.

Globe in Globe

Last Monday, members of the Massachusetts Geographic Alliance joined with EarthView and geography students from Bridgewater State University to show the world to legislators. The university students and a group of remarkable young geographers from Quabbin Middle School provided instruction to visitors and legislators, young and old. In addition to capturing the attention of many legislators and visitors, the event was further publicized in the pages of the Boston Globe, thanks to several staff writers and staff photographer David Ryan.
Globe staff photographer David Ryan

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Angkor Wat - Cambodia

At Angor Wat, Cambodia one stands  in awe of the vaste temple complex that was built in the 12th century. Angkor Wat in Khmer means "city temple". At every turn you can the blending and co-existing of Hindu and then Buddhist cultural features.