• Final Task: American Dream

    Since last year, I've been helping a family friend (in highschool), whom I will call "the Royal Shrimp" [her choice of pseudonyme]  improve her English. This year, I helped her mostly with her "final tasks", a special homework that English teachers ask their pupils to do at the end of a thematic "sequence".

    One of those final tasks came at the end of a sequence about the American dream, and her teacher asked the class to express what "American dream" meant to them or what they understood about it... in an artistic way! A lot of them made drawings, and my pupil got afraid because she's not an artist.

    I therefore tried to reassure her and explained that art is not only about drawing and painting. What matters is what you express and how you do it. This was a homework for an English class after all, and what do we - she and I - master best about it? The English language and what's somehow linked to it.

    That's how I convinced her that we could write a poem. And here it comes!


    Once upon a dream

    by The Royal Shrimp and Myself


    They had a dream

    An American dream

    They came from far away

    They reached the bay

    To escape the misery

    Of their own country

    They were supposed to find a land

    But instead, they found an island

    They discovered of a new place

    Where there was not enough space

    They showed their passport

    To get a transport

    But realized they had no support

    To reach their Neverland

    As soon as they left Elis Island

    Their dream would come to an end.


    He had a dream

    An American dream

    That his “four little children”

    Would live in a nation

    Where the skin colour

    Doesn’t matter.

    They walked peacefully

    Three times in Montgomery

    To make a change, hopefully

    And they got it, eventually.

    44 years later,

    Despite the hater(s)

    They cast their ballot

    And not their bullet

    They chose a black president

    Thinking only of his talent.


    The idea was to work on themes that the Royal Shrimp is very much interested in: the Civil Rights Movement and Elis Island (mostly because she's been to New-York several times already). She is also interested in the characters of Barack and Michelle Obama, so we tried to draw a comparison of something that went wrong and something that can be thought of as a good consequence of the Civil Rights Movement.


    Beforehand, in order to convince her to write a poem for this "artistic" task - which poem was very much praised by her teacher anyway Final Task: American Dream - I decided to pretend that I had to complete the assignement as a student, and here's what I came up with:


    American Dream

    I also provided a detailed explanation for the choices I made here:

    - the map shows that I have understood the historical roots of the American dream: the colonisation of the New world and the conquest of the West

    - the map is about the past, but the goal is about the present/future: a girl who dreams of ninjas and CAN become President, that's what feminism aims at. And indeed, isn't gender equality a new form of the American dream? (ie shouldn't everyone be able to access it regardless of gender, just as it was originally supposed to be regardless of origin?)

    - by using 3 colours, I can convey two messages with only one text: the title, and what I think it means or how I understand it (cf. "I can" + the colours of the American flag)

    - this may be Route 66, another American symbol for ''going westwards''


    And what about you? If you were asked to express yourself about the American Dream in an artistic manner, what would you do? Final Task: American Dream

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