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New Lesson Plan: Valuing an Ancient Vocation

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"The two ideas, justice and vocation, are inseparable....It is by way of the principle and practice of vocation that sanctity and reverence enter into the human economy. It was thus possible for traditional cultures to conceive that 'to work is to pray'." I love this passage from author Wendell Berry.

The practice and the art of vocation, including its value and relationship to community, culture, and the land describes the life of Baltazar Ushca, one of the last remaining glacial ice miners in Chimborazo, Ecuador. The short film, The Last Ice Merchant by Sandy Patch, documents Uschca whose work includes climbing Mt. Chimborazo, the highest mountain in Ecuador, slicing ice from the frozen glaciers, and carrying to the market on his donkeys. The film explores the culture of a Chimborazo indigenous community, the inevitable changes due to modernization, and the loss of an ancient vocation.

Explore the themes of traditional knowledge and our human connection to the environment in the companion lesson plan, "Valuing an Ancient Vocation." Patch explains that the goal of the film "was to share a story of cultural change and indigenous lifestyle with people that would never otherwise have been introduced to it. It was important to me to portray the characters as the dignified people that they are and show the very human story of their circumstances." What might be gained from learning about Baltazar's life, his vocation, and his culture?

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