For my last literature class I chose to do The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Set in the year 1482, I thought it would be a good way to introduce another subject - Medieval Europe - as the theme for their prepared speeches.
BIG mistake. Firstly, it is the most depressing book I have ever read. EVER. It is nothing like the animated movie. Everyone dies at the end - I wanted to die too. And secondly, it left the class so morose and melancholic that every subsequent conversation was quite disparaging and dismal.
The story itself centres around Esmeralda, a woman reviled by some folk for being a Gypsy. In some of our conversations we discussed the persecution of Gypsies or Romani people in Europe from the mid 1300's onwards, particularly in Spain. It was quite sad to note that some things haven't quite changed:
Trying to cheer up the class, I tried to change the subject. So running off on tangents - because that is what we do best - we somehow found ourselves on the touchy subject of Colonialism:
With a few Argentinean students in class, it didn't take too long to note that it was a BAD example:
I quickly regrouped and decided to pick a political situation that had a more positive outcome. I thought that the fall of the Berlin Wall that separated East and West Berlin for decades would be a great example. Third time's a charm innit?:
Not so. See, some walls may have come down, but others have gone up. And they're MUCH bigger.
Wall around the city of Bethlehem in Palestine.