Saturday, July 25, 2015

Poetry, Geography, and Writing: Colombia and Venezuela

Photo Credit: Rodrigo Suarez
Map Warm-up

Try this blank map of Central and South America. How many countries that we studied can you remember? How many South American countries can you fill in?

Geography Warm-up

Do exercises 37-30 in World Geography Daily Skill Builders.

Six Things to Know about Venezuela

1. Simon Bolivar. Hey, check out this YouTube video made by a kid, that uses Legos to tell a quick biography. Or you can look fondly back on the Crash Course World History video we watched during Cuba week.

2. Angel Falls

3. Merengue

4. Oil. Venezuela has the world's largest proven oil reserves and is the world's eighth largest oil exporter. Many US companies and US citizens go to Venezuela to establish and work in the oil industry.

5. Orinoco River flows from Guiana to Atlantic Ocean. Most of it is in Venezuela and some in Colombia.

6. Capital city is Caracas.

Six Things to Know About Colombia:

1. Colombia's major export is cocaine. Here are some illustrations of cocaine production.

2. Most of Colombia's old forests have been cut down to create farmland.

3. Capital city is Bogota. Under Spanish colonial rule, this was a major administrative center in South America.

4. Bolivar helped to liberate Colombia too, and was its first elected president.

5. For a long time, liberals and conservatives fought over who should lead the country, but then one liberal president issued the "Declaration of Sitges" which introduced the National Front. This meant that liberals and conservatives would share leadership and govern jointly, alternating control every four years.

6. Colombia has an Atlantic and Pacific shoreline, and contains part of the Andes mountain range and part of the Amazon river basin.


Consider this poem, attributed to Simon Bolivar:

Happy is he who is satisfied with his humble fortune.
Free of the proud yoke to which I am bound,
He lives in the obscurity in which Heaven has hidden him.
Blessed is he who is content with his humble fortune.

Bolivar is pretty much the most famous historical person in South America, and lots and lots of things (including a country!) are named after him. Read this poem, in which Chilean poet Pablo Neruda ponders Bolivar's fame:

"Song to Bolivar"
by Pablo Neruda

Our Father thou art in Heaven,
in water, in air
in all our silent and broad latitude
everything bears your name, Father in our dwelling:
your name raises sweetness in sugar cane
Bolivar tin has a Bolivar gleam
the BolĂ­var bird flies over the Bolivar volcano
the potato, the saltpeter, the special shadows,
the brooks, the phosphorous stone veins
everything comes from your extinguished life
your legacy was rivers, plains, bell towers
your legacy is our daily bread, oh Father.

Activity: Geography Game

Continue developing your geography game, using Part 2 of the Geography Game Workshop planning sheet. This is a good time to bring in a box of random things and see what interests you that you might want to use in your game: poker chips, connectable blocks, erasers, stickers, markers, small plastic pineapples, post-its, beads, coins, blank cards, cards shaped like boats, actual boats, buttons, foil flowers, etc.


Watch this video about drug trafficking in Colombia.

Time: 20 Minutes
Length: 1 page

After watching the disturbing video about the drug trade in Colombia, you may wonder why the USA doesn't step in and do something, after all we have done plenty of the intervening and "peacekeeping" in Central America over the last century. Or maybe you feel that we should stay as far away from Colombia as we can and let them figure out their own problems. I want you to think hard about whether that instinct is correct, and write an essay either advocating for US intervention in Colombia or advocating for a hands-off policy with regard to this situation. Should the US go in there and keep the peace? Why do you think we haven't already? What are our interests in Colombia? Do we owe the people in this video any help?

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