African Lit. Class Travels to D.C.

Instructor in English Dr. Rachel Myers teaches an African Literature Senior English elective that explores the theme of sankofa, a Twi word from the Akan people of Western Africa. Sankofa translates to “it is not taboo to fetch what is at risk of being left behind.” The word indicates the value of looking to the past for wisdom to guide the future.
The fall elective course will take a field trip to Washington D.C. from Thursday, November 21 to Sunday, November 24. During the trip, students will stay at the National 4-H Conference Center and visit the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
The class educates students about the social and cultural history of members of the African Diaspora, including their oral traditions, the clash of indigenous religious practices with colonial missionaries, and the economy of colonialism.
Throughout the semester, students have focused on several West African countries and read texts including The Palm Wine Drinkard, The Poor Christ of Bomba, and Homegoing. This is the first year African Literature has been offered at Hotchkiss.
Dr. Myers organized the accompanying field trip and received financial support from an endowed fund from the class of 1963. Dr. Myers said, “I’m so grateful to the donors, [who] make experiences like this possible and accessible to Hotchkiss students who may not otherwise be able to see these museums.”
Some exhibits featured at the Museum of African Art include “Heroes: Principles of African Greatness,” which highlights art celebrating heroic figures in African history, and “I Am…Contemporary Women Artists of Africa,” which features art from women across the continent. Dr. Myers said, “I want this trip to be visceral for my students. These museums evoke deep emotional responses from me, and I hope my students have an emotional response to these museums as well.”
The field trip is part of a larger effort to create a more inclusive community at the school. Dr. Myers said, “Building inclusive and understanding communities takes intellectual and emotional effort. My seniors have been working incredibly hard to learn more about the intellectual side of African Literature. I’m so excited to get us out into spaces to see and feel what we’ve been talking about these past few months.”
The members of the class departed this morning.