Have you ever reached a part in a book where every sense in your body immediately relives a time/place in your life? Deep within the pages of Elizabeth Acevedo’s novel, “Clap When You Land”, there is a chapter that begins with, “But sancocho is a daylong dish to make. It has many steps; it’s making a pact with time that you will be patient & the outcome will be delicious”. As I turned the book over and sat in silence, my mind immediately drifted to those many summers that I spent in the Dominican Republic with our Teacher Mentors Abroad team. TMA is an organization that is near and dear to my heart. For the past 15 years, Canadian educators have been partnering with Dominican mentors to learn from each other as we impact a global movement to support educators and their professional learning. The experience is both rewarding and humbling and I long for the days that we can, once again, travel to the DR and continue our work. As an organization we have shifted to connecting via zoom meetings, in order to maintain our connections. But you will never smell sancocho via a zoom meeting.
One of the many traditions associated with our work is a final night celebration, when the team is invited to Isobel’s home where she proudly and lovingly serves us some delicious sancocho that has been cooking all day. The smell of the mixture of meat and vegetables wafts through the air as enjoy each other’s company through conversation and dance until the long awaited, “It’s ready” is shared in both Spanish and English. As Canadian visitors it does not go unnoticed on our part that this family has probably sacrificed their entire meat ration for at least a month, in order for them to share this special meal.
Unlike our celebration, in Acevedo’s novel, the family is preparing sancocho to serve to guests as they come together for the funeral of a father, who died in a plane crash ~ a man who unbeknownst to both families was living a double life. The story unfolds as Camino who lives in the DR and Yahaira, who lives in New York City discover each other and together, come to terms with the news and how to ultimately create a blended family.
As I craft this post, I have the novel on my desk, in my office, with a sticky note attached, “First Chapter Friday”. I was scheduled to share the first chapter of this novel with one of our grade 8 classes when we returned Spring Break. I’m hopeful that I’ll still have that opportunity at some point this year.
When was the last time you read something that you couldn’t wait to share with someone else?
Come write with me….