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The Value of Sports: Unifying a Community

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This past summer, I visited the Melbourne Museum in Australia with my children. One of the exhibitions, called First Peoples, contained beautiful stories, objects, and images from the Elders and community of the First Peoples Yulendj Group.

One section of the exhibition was a “deep listening” multimedia space where Koorie people between ages 8 and 72 spoke about their culture, their families, and identities. Their personal stories reflected their resilience and pride. I was particularly moved by the following passage, written about family by Kevin Coombs of the Wamba-Wamba tribe: “I think it’s very important for everyone to know where they come from and who their Ancestors were, and know your family, because Aboriginals, everywhere we go: ‘Where you from? Who’s your mother? Who’s your father?’…Every Aboriginal would know that one of the first things you ask them was how they’re connected.”

The short film I Am Yup’ik explores the themes of pride, resilience, and connection. The Yup’ik Eskimo people are a Native Alaskan community. The word Yup’ik means “real person” or “real people.” The film follows a 16-year-old basketball player from the tiny village of Toksook Bay and highlights the community’s culture, identity, and the power of basketball, which unites the young team, the families, and the community-at-large.

In this lesson, students explore the themes of youth awareness and empowerment, identity, and connection to home. In a reflecting writing prompt, students respond to a quote from Byron, the 16-year-old basketball player in the film who said, “If you forget what your ancestors taught you, you’re not going to survive.”

More to Explore

Film
I Am Yup'ik

A 16-year-old Alaskan Native leaves his tiny village to compete in a basketball tournament hundreds of miles across frozen tundra.

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Film
A Game for Life

In the poor neighborhood of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, a provincial soccer star, "Titie," works with an innovative soccer program to educate local youth about HIV/AIDS prevention.

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Essay
Learning and Teaching from the Heart in Troubled Times

Ariel Burger explores ways to embrace curiosity and celebrate questions in challenging times.

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Winners and Finalists: The Environment Is in You

This contest challenged students to take a photograph or create an original illustration that documents the fragility, hope, and future of our planet’s ecosystem due to climate change. 

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