“All Have our Part” is a story about the Erie Canal, 19th century American Immigration and westward expansion. It centers on Biddy, the twin daughter of two Northern Irish Immigrants who came to America and were met with immediate prejudice and racism. They persevered to eventually own and run their own Erie Canal “packet boat,” but then became prejudiced and racist in their own way, against Italians, Chinese and Jewish people. Biddy then becomes the catalyst for empathy, education, and connection.
Note: Though this is historical fiction and the characters have been developed to accommodate a story, their attributes and development may be useful as reference points and inspirations.
TOPICS FOR INVESTIGATION
New York History - The history of Immigration in the United States – especially through New York City - How the Erie canal was built and then led to a massive move west - How the history and culture of the Northern Irish affected New York and the nation
New York Geography - A map of the voyage from Northern Ireland to New York City to Syracuse - A map of the voyage from Sicily to New York City to Cleveland - A map of the Erie Canal with all its stops from Albany to Buffalo
“All Have our Part” Study Topics - Culture of Northern Ireland as compared to Sicily - Compare the waves of immigration in US history - Study of racism in America and how it has evolved
TOPICS FOR REFLECTION
From a Child Development Perspective:
In this story, your child might learn that:
“Letting Go” of what we know is sometimes needed when we try something new. Biddy’s parents and others had to leave behind the life that they knew and take the risk for something better, but also new and unknown. There is risk involved in finding a better way!
Humor or teasing at the expense of another is not funny or kind. Much as Biddy loved and adored her father, she knew that his jokes were not very nice. She also defends Sam to her father and brother who insult him. She shows us that we don’t have to laugh at things we don’t find funny, and we can stand up for what is kind and good.
Usually, it’s best to speak up, but sometimes it’s better to hold our thoughts to ourselves. At times, it’s the kinder thing to do. Biddy knew Sicily was in Italy, but she didn’t correct her father for fear that he wouldn’t let Sam on their boat.
Reputations are hard to overcome, but they CAN be overcome! Biddy’s father discovered what he and Sam have in common, and he found that Sam had a lot to teach him from where they differed that he never knew before. With tolerance, patience and love, we see that we all have our part!
About the Authors
David Sewell McCann
David Sewell McCann fell in love with spinning stories in first grade – the day a storyteller came to his class and captured his mind and imagination. He has been engaged in storytelling all of his adult life through painting, film-making, teaching and performing. Out of his experience as a Waldorf elementary class teacher and parent, he has developed a four step method of intuitive storytelling, which he now shares through workshops and through this website.
Meredith has been working with adults and children of all ages for the past 25 years as a Waldorf Teacher and Educational Consultant. She received a B.A. with a focus on child development and child psychology from the University of Michigan, in 1984, an M.A. Ed from Washington University in 1987, and her Waldorf Teaching Certificate from the Lehrerausbildung (Teacher Training) in Nurnberg, Germany in 1989. She was certified as a Living Inquiries Facilitator in 2014, and she completed her formal teaching certification with The Enneagram Institute in 2014. Her work in the classroom and with individuals and groups is designed to help people of all ages to drop self-limiting beliefs to live a more joyful and compassionate life.