A group of people previously unknown to each other gathered to launch the Story Stitch game newly created by Minneapolis-based Green Card Voices.

Photo by Shiney Her
A group of people previously unknown to each other gathered to launch the Story Stitch game newly created by Minneapolis-based Green Card Voices. Photo by Shiney Her

Merging Through Game 

The latest product from local non-profit Green CardVoices is the “Story Stitch” card game, designed to facilitate guided storytelling that connects and builds empathy between people of different cultural backgrounds. The tagline is “Telling Stories, Opening Minds, Becoming Neighbors.” It was co-created by diverse communities in the Twin Cities, and tested by leaders in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Sample questions: 

  • “Tell about a fear that you believe is holding you back.” 
  • “Tell one thing that you appreciate about yourself and why.” 
  • “Tell about a significant story in your life that you will always remember.” 
  • "Tell a story of a challenge you faced during your childhood.” 

Details: Storystitch.org, greencardvoices.com, 612-889-7635 

Who Draws the Lines? 

At a recent YWCA “It’s Time to Act” event, guest speaker Dr. Nell Irvin Painter, a retired history professor from Princeton and author of “The History of White People,” talked about how the 2016 presidential election focused our attention on the understudied question: What does it mean to have white identity?

She discussed how races have been classified, generally by white men, through history. Painter indicated these classifications change, because the borders we create around race are man-made ideas — not based on innate facts. 

For example, in the late 1800s, biometrics developed as the science of measuring characteristics to label individuals. At the time, the shape of faces was measured and it was decreed that the Anglo-Saxon race was superior to Celtic. After some countries fell out of favor because of World War I, she said, “Celtics got ‘in’” and the Mediterranean pigmentation of Italians was deemed inferior.

Eventually classification was less about face shape, and more about “racial temperament.” Americanus was stubborn, Africanus was crafty and negligent, Asiaticus was sallow and distracted, and Europeaus were deemed gentle and inventive. The classifications were createdin Europe.

After World War II, Painter said, classification focused on the working class person as “inferior, dirty, ignorant, drunk, socialist, and anarchist.” The superior race was deemed to be the Nordic outdoorsmen, who were sons of nature and hunting —as determined by Nordic outdoorsmen.

“It’s about who draws the lines,” Painter concluded. 

It seems that since the 1950s, classification of largely white male values — strong patriarchs with protective and militaristic tendencies 
— has been the prevailing mindset about what identity type is superior. 

Suggested resource: sceneonradio.org/seeing-white 

Compassion Has No Borders 

Jetsun Pema at the Tibetan community center  in St. Paul in November of the Tibetan Children’s Village (TCV) school system for 42years, ensured that everyone from refugee children to elders in exile were nurtured despite the lack of access to their homeland.She is affectionately referred to as the Mother of Tibet.

Since the Communist regime in China invaded Tibet in 1950, more than 53,000 students have passed through the TCV system. There are roughly 3,000 Tibetan People-in-Exile living in Minnesota. Several hundred of them gathered to honor Pema during her first visit to the area. 

The City of Minneapolis and of the City of St. Paul declared November 17, 2018, to be Jetsun Pema Day.

In an interview with the Minnesota Women’s Press during a visit to the Tibetan community center in St. Paul, she said education is vital not only to be integrated into modern times, but to be deeply rooted in cultural identity. One primary value taught by the Tibetan culture, she says: “Compassion has no borders.” 
TCV students are taught with the Montessori system, which “brings out what the child has within.” At the fifth grade level, all students spend a month researching a topic, which could range from the nomadic Tibetan history to the life of a trader. They connect in conversation with village members, teachers, and elders as part of their research, to create an exhibition.

The Tibetans believe there can be peace in the world, Pema says. “But first you must have peace in your heart.” The students are taught “how to be a good human being — the culture of interdependence.” 

Details: http://tcv.org.in/about