Hilltop Montessori

You are here: Home » Programs & Student Life » Alabama Odyssey 2013
Monday, 22 Dec 2014

Middle School Odyssey 2014

River of Spirit Day 1

E-mail Print PDF

Day 1 - River of Spirit 

Visit the New England Peace Pagoda Buddhist Center. Arrive at Friendly Crossways Hostel

Head into Boston

Alewife to downtown

Dinner – Prudential food court – Student Purchase

The Crossing – An alternative approach to liturgy.  Cathedral Church of St. Paul. Conversation with members after the service.

Return to Friendly Crossways

* * *

I thought it was really interesting what they said [at The Crossing] about doubt. In a way, doubting things is a quality that makes us really human. And doubt is what makes faith so special. It is like how good would not exist without evil. Faith would not be faith without doubt.


At the Peace Pagoda, I tried to occasionally just stop whatever I was doing and just take in the serene quality of the place. I felt like I was completely isolated from thought. I could just focus on the stream or the peace of the temple without having to think or worry about anything at all.


At The Crossing I found myself singing joyously and loudly with people I didn’t know but yet felt a part of. It was the first time I have felt a part of a church, and I realized that to immerse myself in a community like that, I didn’t have to have an unbroken belief and devotion in Christ or God. It was OK there to still be in search of yourself and your belief.


The feeling I got at both of these magical places was the ability to connect to the higher power through two very different spiritual ways of worship.


From chanting, subways, Eucharist, and awakening blisters, I jump on the boat, gliding down the river of spirit.


Alabama Odyssey Day 7

E-mail Print PDF

Tuesday, April 9

8:30  ride the ferry from Gee's Bend to Camden

10:00 Meet Sheryl Threadgill at Antioch Baptist Church in Camden

Talk with local members of Camden's government  and local church members.

11:30 Lunch at Miss Kitty’s Restaurant in Camden

Tour Camden's Public middle School and participate in a short theater class

Visit Black Belt Treasures,

3:30 Visit with the BAMA Kids and share poems, songs and speeches

6:00 Pizza dinner with BAMA Kids and ambassadors from other local schools the Chamber of Commerce

Over the course of this odyssey what has potentially been most incredible for me was how loving and accepting everyone we have met has been. From the oldest adults to the youngest children, everyone has been as nice as any of us could possible hope for. I don't believe that anyone we have met with has really said anything mean, detrimental, or anything with any malicious intent to a single one of us.


I can't help but see my own privilege. I may not be the riches person I know, but I have so much more than the people I met on this odyssey. I may not be able to get everything I want, but I can get everything I need. I don't go hungry and I probably never will.


This day has been so fun! Talking to the BAMA kids and playing with them has been so great. I am so lucky to be in Alabama.


Throughout this odyssey I have been able to experience a new culture that other kids might not be as able to do, so I am feeling really grateful about this experience.


I feel like the Civil Rights Movement leaders are just turning over in their graves. The schools in Camden are basically still segregated. I just couldn't believe it. It seems like all the work that those leaders did, all the walls they tore down are beginning to be built again. Look at the new voter registration laws and the black public schools and white private school in Camden. Our job as young people is to make sure those old walls never get re-built.


I am sad to see this life-changing odyssey end, but I know that I will tell my grandkids about the time that I walked and me with marchers. The one thing that I am positive about is that I will return.


Alabama Odyssey Day 6

E-mail Print PDF

Monday, April 8

10:00 Joanne Bland, Foot Soldier and activist - Tour of Selma

4:00 Discussion with Pat Godwin of the Friends of Forrest

Dinner provided by Sharon and David with Joanne Bland and Annie Pearl Avery.

I loved doing my speech at Browns Chapel knowing that Barack Obama, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Amelia Boynton all spoke from the same pulpit.


It struck me as ignorant when Pat said "Racism is about defending your race and not anything about discrimination".


In the beginning of the day we saw a short film depicting Bloody Sunday and Mrs. Bland as one of the marchers and after the film was over a woman talked about courage. Courage is the word I would use to describe the Civil Rights Movement.


The Lady with long nails

just another figure

in this community.

The lady with long nails,

the boy with nice shoes,

the man with a pretty car.

And here comes this parade of outsiders

these white kids who know nothing about the South

and they stare at the lady with long nails

they ask questions

but to the boy with nice shoes

and the man with the pretty car

and every other community member

she's just another lady

another lonely individual

no matter how much she can satisfy herself

with long nails

nice shoes

or pretty cars


During my trip to Alabama I got an in depth, hands on look at African American history by mingling with people of the other race. I have been out of this country quite a few times and still Alabama is the most foreign place I have every visited. I can still see a very vivid split between the races, I can see hate, I scan see arrogance, and I can see pride.


Live Oaks Cemetery

Graves made of marble

graves made of stone

but below the earth

lie Confederate restless bones

Trees left standing

silent watching heads

draped with the beards

of those now left for dead


Joanne told us an incredible story of her time during Bloody Sunday. What really struck me was the violence that normal people, people who might hold themselves to higher religious ideals, could inflict on helpless children and old people.


A little late but worth the wait - Mary Lee Bandolph sings at church, Sunday

alabama Odyssey Day 5

E-mail Print PDF

Sunday, April 7

A day with Mary Lee Bendolph

Church at Ye Shall Know the Truth Baptist Church with Reverend Clinton Pettway

Picnic with the folks of Gee’s Bend.

Dinner provided by Sharon and David Jackson

Today was a day of Gee's Bend, a day of faith, a day of play, a day of fun, but most importably a day of unconditional love. Today was a day of walking into a church and being hugged by a multitude of strangers with an almost completely different life than my own. Today was a day of teaching, of talking, of fishing, of laughing, of play, and of learning. These people of Gee's Bend were so loving, so polite, yet so intense and invested in there lives. Everyone in this community just seemed so happy. Maybe they didn't have computers and fancy houses, which may bring happiness to us, but this was a group of people who could create their own happiness. The Gee's Bend people could find happiness within themselves, each other, and God.


The Kid in Blue



"What's your name"


an apparently THAT mad us friends

enough for him to start

chasing me around like

we were



The Integrated Playground

Sometimes I think back

and try and imagine

the ingregated playground of dreams

where little black boys

and little white girls

played and paraded in the streams

where the sky was one color

they chase one another

in the integrated playground of dreams


There is a white door and a black, which do you go through. I answered white even though it sounds racist. Everyone else answered black because they did not want to sound racist. But if picking white sounds racist why does black not?


Visiting the Ye Shall Know the Truth Baptist Church was much different than any other church I have visited! It felt much more alive. Reverend Petway was moving around more and everyone was responding  to him. It was probably one of the few services I've gone to that I didn't make me want to go to sleep. As much as I hate doing anything related to music and religion, I actually found the singing and music fairly interesting, as far as singing goes.


The people of Gee's Bend almost don't have to quilt their community is already so tightly sewn together.


To walk into my childhood

to see a child run

and play and jump

frolicking in  a world

crafted out of sand

To see a girl jump off swings

and pull people down slides

I would never have noticed

her dark ebony skin

or her rough

electrified hair

had it not been

for the sparrow

who flew above me

As I reached out

to pluck him from the sky

the sun came out from behind a cloud

and reflected off my pale white skin

but not off the children in the park


Alabama Odyssey Day 4

E-mail Print PDF

Saturday, April 6

Visit Jimmie Lee Jackson’s grave, stop in Marion

11:00 The Safe House Black History Museum – Ms. Theresa Burroughs (civil rights footsoldier)

12:30 Lunch at the Pie Lab

Afternoon Perry Lakes Park and Barton's Beach Natural Preserve

Visit to Charlie Lucas's Selma studio, The Belly of the Ship

Dinner in Selma


Cement is hard lifeless and cold

Love is safe nice and warm

You may think that these are opposite

but opposites attract

Love is life and is warm

Cement is hard and cold

put together is true beauty


In the Wizard of OZ, the Tin Man worries about his lack of heart, but the Tin Man we know has more heart than anyone I have ever met.


Today we started out at Jimmie Lee Jackson's grave. I stood over his grave almost the entire time. At first, it was a normal grave, something I had seen before, but as people lost interest and walked away I stood alone with the grave. As I stood, I don't know why, I just couldn't, just didn't want to leave. I was only thinking about him. I felt as though I could feel him. I felt he was under me, I felt he was over me. As I walked away from his grave I felt and still do feel that he was and is watching.


I loved how Theresa Burroughs said she was not a trouble maker as a child, then started talking about how she wrote letters as a nine year old to the department of agriculture about inequality and almost made them lose their house.


In the afternoon I was able to admire Alabama's true beauty . We went  to Perry Lakes and Barton Beach Park. We went up an insanely tall tower and looked out on the horizon. It was so pretty. All the trees had spanish moss hanging on them. THAT was something I don't normally see.


Red sand

spanish moss

beaten houses - rusty roofs

short cows grazing under straight rows of trees

an occasional bright pink flash of a bush

swamps with sunken trees, alligators lurking nearby?

Driving through Alabama


Page 2 of 3