Build a Village

When I was a working DRE in Greenville, South Carolina, I created an interactive curriculum. I wanted the children and youth to understand better how things worked between nations.

This, of course, means that you need two groups to do this curricula. One way is to have the junior youth and senior youth classes, but this works for children in 4th grade & up. In fact, when I did this in Greenville, I believe our 5th & 6th grade class and the 7th & 8th grade class.

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Here’s a sample lesson:

Level 1 – Session 1

Building the Village

Goals/Scenario

Welcome to your village! So what now? You are a group of people without any kind of shelter, if a storm comes through you won’t have any place to keep dry and you’ll have no food to eat.

  • Decide what type of shelter, what it will be made out of, and where you will find the supplies to build this.
  • Decide how you are going to get food.
  • Decide how you will keep the peace (rules for the village).
  • Decide what you will name your village and what you will call yourselves. For example, Mars/Martians; New York/New Yorkers.

Chalice Lighting and Reading

We must sit down and reason together.

Perhaps we should sit in the dark.

In the dark we could utter our feelings.

In the dark we could propose and describe and suggest.

In the dark we could not see who speaks and only

Words would say what they say.

No one would speak more than twice.

No one would speak less than once.

Thus saying what we feel and what we want,

What we fear for ourselves and each other in the dark.

Perhaps we could begin and begin to listen.

The women must learn to dare to speak,

The men must learn to bother to listen.

The women must learn to say I think this is so.

The men must learn to stop dancing solos on the ceiling.

After each speaks, she or he will say a ritual phrase:

It is not I who speaks, but the wind.

Wind blows through me. Long after me, is the wind.

– Marge Piercy

Check-in (10 min)

Each person is given 3 minutes or less to speak, this is to see how everyone is feeling before the lesson begins. It is okay to pass, just simply say “pass”. No one is forced to share.

Roles of the Council of Elders

The roles of the Elders are to be mentors/guides and to not inhibit natural conversation or debate, but offer wisdom and support. Each Elder has an active role in the Village. One Elder acts as peacekeeper to remind of peaceful ways to solve problems and to behave as a community. The other Elder acts as a Timekeeper to remind everyone to stay on topic and to enforce equal share of time for Villagers and Diplomats.

Suggested script (ad-lib as much as possible) Council of Elders

Elder 1: Here we are villagers alike and different, but we have no name, no housing, we must work together to build our village.

Elder 2: We have only one tool to use, The Universal Declaration of Villager Rights. This will help us to govern our village and help us to treat one another with dignity and respect.

Elder 1: Rains will be coming soon to water the growing crops and the fill the rivers, but we will be wet and cold if we do not decide soon how we will build our shelter!

Read the Universal Declaration of Villager Rights (30 min.)

Use the tools in the Declaration to hold an open discussion about the Universal Declaration and what it means to the village, and how it can be used to help the village.

Open Discussion (30 min.)

  • How shall we build our village?
  • What shall we name our village?
  • How shall we choose to govern our village? (Invite villagers to facilitate conversation, and to take lead on writing down suggestions. Use the consensus model in the Declaration to come to agreements on village name, etc.

*Suggestion: A good and easy way to build the village is have the class members bring in scraps of cardboard; duct tape and other needed things to build a village inside your classroom. Note: This will be messy until village is completed. Every week you can build on your village. The point is that by the end of the 12th week you should have a fully built and smooth running village. Good luck!

Elder Note: At this point, the youth should be making decisions about the final outcome of this session. There is a potential for flippant decisions, here. It is our sincere hope that the elders will guide the youth using our 7 Principles and the Universal Declaration of Villager Rights to make good decisions. However, this is role play. The decisions here will have consequences for the village, but this is a factitious village. It is our hope that youth will learn from their decisions – bad or good. We hope the Elders will help the youth understand the intent of each session.

Check-Out

This is a one word check out to see how everyone is feeling after the lesson and what feelings they are taking home.

Closing Words

Let us cultivate boundless goodwill.

Let none deceive another, or despise any being in any state.

Let none in anger or ill-will wish another harm.

Even as a mother watches over her child, so with boundless mind should one cherish all living beings, radiating friendliness over the whole world, above, below, and all around without limit.

Metta Sutta

Homework Assignment

Each villager should bring 2-3 bottles of water for the next class. Bring more than you would consume.


Session 1 – Level 3

Building the Village

Goals/Scenario

Welcome to your global village! So what now? You are a group of people without any kind of shelter, if a storm comes through you won’t have any place to keep dry and you’ll have no food to eat.

  • Decide what type of shelter, what it will be made out of, and where you will find the supplies to build this.
  • Decide how you are going to get food.
  • Decide how you will keep the peace (rules for the village).
  • Decide what you will name your village and what you will call yourselves. For example, Mars/Martians; New York/New Yorkers.

Chalice Lighting and Reading

We must sit down and reason together.

Perhaps we should sit in the dark.

In the dark we could utter our feelings.

In the dark we could propose and describe and suggest.

In the dark we could not see who speaks and only

Words would say what they say.

No one would speak more than twice.

No one would speak less than once.

Thus saying what we feel and what we want,

What we fear for ourselves and each other in the dark.

Perhaps we could begin and begin to listen.

The women must learn to dare to speak,

The men must learn to bother to listen.

The women must learn to say I think this is so.

The men must learn to stop dancing solos on the ceiling.

After each speaks, she or he will say a ritual phrase:

It is not I who speaks, but the wind.

Wind blows through me. Long after me, is the wind.

– Marge Piercy

Check-in (10 min)

Each person is given 3 minutes or less to speak, this is to see how everyone is feeling before the lesson begins. It is okay to pass, just simply say “pass”. No one is forced to share.

Roles of the Council of Elders

The roles of the Elders are to be mentors/guides and to not inhibit natural conversation or debate, but offer wisdom and support. Each Elder has an active role in the Village. One Elder acts as peacekeeper to remind of peaceful ways to solve problems and to behave as a community. The other Elder acts as a Timekeeper to remind everyone to stay on topic and to enforce equal share of time for Villagers and Diplomats.

Suggested script (ad-lib as much as possible) Council of Elders

Elder 1: Here we are villagers alike and different, but we have no name, no housing, we must work together to build our village.

Elder 2: We have only one tool to use, The Universal Declaration of Villager Rights. This will help us to govern our village and help us to treat one another with dignity and respect.

Elder 1: Rains will be coming soon to water the growing crops and the fill the rivers, but we will be wet and cold if we do not decide soon how we will build our shelter!

Read the Universal Declaration of Villager Rights (30 min.)

Use the tools in the Declaration to hold an open discussion about the Universal Declaration and what it means to the village, and how it can be used to help the village.

Open Discussion (30 min.)

  • How shall we build our village?
  • What shall we name our village?
  • How shall we choose to govern our village? (Invite villagers to facilitate conversation, and to take lead on writing down suggestions. Use the consensus model in the Declaration to come to agreements on village name, etc.

*Suggestion: A good and easy way to build the village is have the class members bring in scraps of cardboard; duct tape and other needed things to build a village inside your classroom. Note: This will be messy until village is completed. Every week you can build on your village. The point is that by the end of the 12th week you should have a fully built and smooth running village. Good luck!

Elder Note: At this point, the youth should be making decisions about the final outcome of this session. There is a potential for flippant decisions, here. It is our sincere hope that the elders will guide the youth using our 7 Principles and the Universal Declaration of Villager Rights to make good decisions. However, this is role play. The decisions here will have consequences for the village, but this is a factitious village. It is our hope that youth will learn from their decisions – bad or good. We hope the Elders will help the youth understand the intent of each session.

Check-Out

This is a one word check out to see how everyone is feeling after the lesson and what feelings they are taking home.

Closing Words

Let us cultivate boundless goodwill.

Let none deceive another, or despise any being in any state.

Let none in anger or ill-will wish another harm.

Even as a mother watches over her child, so with boundless mind should one cherish all living beings, radiating friendliness over the whole world, above, below, and all around without limit. – Metta Sutta

Homework Assignment

Bring bright, shiny beads. It will not be necessary to use them in an art project, so size, shape and hole placement is not important. Just make them pretty and attractive and very shiny! Even pretty polished rocks will do adequately.
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For the youngest children, Pre-K through 3rd grade, I gave them a story-based curriculum with 12 stories. The concepts of building will be too complex for typical children of this age.

Sample Story:

Story: The Good Samaritan
(Christian Parable)

retold by Connie Dunn

Jesus, who was a teacher and Rabbi, was asked, “Jesus, if I am supposed to love my neighbor as myself, how do I know who my neighbors are? There are so many neighbors.”

Jesus knew that he could not tell this person that everyone was his neighbor, because no one can love everyone. So, Jesus answered by telling the following story:

“Once upon a time,” Jesus began, “a certain merchant was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. It is a lonely and dangerous journey, as you may already know. You must travel down through the steep and barren hills. A simple merchant was traveling down this road, when he suddenly came upon a turn and met a band of robbers, who not only took all of the merchant’s goods that he was taking to sell at the market, but took all his clothes, as well. The man had put up a fight, but had lost that along with everything else. So there he was left stripped of his clothes and merchandise and left him by the roadside in the hot sun, half-naked and half-dead.

“After a long while another traveler came down the same road. This man was a priest. He had completed his work at the temple and was returning to his home and family and needed rest for the next day at work. When he came to this same spot in the road, he saw the half-naked, half-dead man lying by the roadside. Although he was a priest and cared for people, the priest was off duty and did not go over to see if the man was merely sleeping or if he was in trouble. Instead the priest passed by on the other side of the road.

“After another long while, a second traveler came along. He was a singer in one of the temple choirs. When he came to the spot, he also noticed the man lying beside the road. He, too, passed him by, convincing himself that whatever the problem, it wasn’t his problem. And down the road went the singer without another thought of the poor man by the roadside.

“Finally, a certain Samaritan merchant began traveling that same road came by leading a donkey loaded with merchandise. Now people from Samaria and people from Israel did not get along very well at that time. The Samaritan was planning to sell his goods in Jericho, where many foreigners lived, which were willing to have dealings with Samaritans.

“As the Samaritan passed by the spot on the road where the half-naked, half-dead man was lying beside the road, he stopped and stepped over beside him to find out what was the matter. When he saw the man’s bleeding face and back, the Samaritan felt sorry for the man. He took a camel-skin bottle filled with healing oil and poured some of it over the man’s wounds. Then, he found a clean piece of cloth from his bag of merchandise and bound up the man’s wounds.

“The Samaritan then unloaded his own donkey and lifted the helpless man up on the donkey’s back. He picked up his bundles of merchandise, threw them over his own shoulders and, carefully leading the donkey with the wounded man on its back, he went on down the road.

“Together they traveled until they came to an inn, which is like a hotel or motel only at that time inns provided only a room not mattresses or mats to sleep on. The Samaritan rented a room for the night, spread his own sleeping mat on the floor, and laid the injured man down to rest. All through the night the Samaritan slept beside the man and waited on him whenever he needed help.

“When morning came, the Samaritan saw that the wounded man was better. The man was able to move about a little, but not well enough to travel. The Samaritan paid the keeper of the inn for the night’s lodging for the two of them. But he also arranged for the wounded man to stay as long and he needed to do so. The Samaritan told the man goodbye.

“And he asked the innkeeper, to take care of the wounded man. He said, `Take care of him and whatever you spend more than I have given you, I will repay you when I come back again from Jericho.’”

This was the end of Jesus’ story. He then turned to the questioner and asked, “Which of these three, the priest, the choir singer, or the Samaritan, proved to be a neighbor to the man who had been held up by robbers?”

The questioner answered without hesitation, “The man who helped the wounded man.”

Wondering Questions:

  • I wonder why Jesus used a Samaritan as an example, rather than somebody else?
  • I wonder why Jesus used this story to define “neighbor”?
  • I wonder who some of our “neighbors” are?
  • I wonder who we might not have thought of as neighbors?
  • I wonder what the story of the Good Samaritan says about how we should behave toward our neighbors?
  • I wonder who you might choose to help?
  • I wonder if you know people who are ill or hungry or are have no place to live?
  • I wonder if you can think of ways we can help our neighbors?

To purchase this curriculum, please go to Build a Village Curricula

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