Quebec Roots is back!

In case you never heard of Quebec Roots, it’s a Blue Metropolis Literary Foundation project in which teams composed of a writer and photographer travel to English-language schools across the province, and help students produce a chapter in a book that actually gets published!

Today my pal, photographer Monique Dykstra, and I visited St. Mary’s School in Longueuil. We were there to work with Miss Gerlick’s Grade Five class. One of the first things “the Moniques” (that’s what we call ourselves when we are teamed up on a project) have to do – besides give students some pointers about photography and writing – is to help the kids decide on a topic. These students were super well-prepared; they had a list of great topics. The kids voted (a little like in yesterday’s federal election, only we got a majority!) and decided they wanted to work on the topic of silence. By the way, Miss Gerlick; the Moniques; Ms. Beauregard, the community learning center (CLC) coordinator; and Ms. Paluzzi, the resource teacher (who used to be my student at Marianopolis College) all ADORE this topic!

A student named Felix gets credit for coming up with the topic in the first place. Felix told me that he was inspired by his own life because he has what he described to me as, “a quiet room in the basement.” Gillan came up with these words to talk about silence: “the creepiest of woods.” Nicholas was sharing an idea with the class, and he told us, “This sounds weird in my head.” (I love how that sentence sounds, Nicholas!) And Klowie told us she enjoys cooking in silence. Klowie also used the words “Before before before” – and I think I had better write that down because I think it makes a gorgeous book title. If I ever use it, Klowie, I promise to give you credit!

During the short writing exercise I did with the students, Klowie came up with a sentence that I adored: “One time it got so quiet I could hear the wind.” Hey, Klowie, I hope you’ll keep writing that piece for our chapter!

Right now, the students are out with Monique D, shooting photos. That’s because there’s no better way to learn something than by doing it – same goes for writing. As for me, I’m in Miss Gerlick’s classroom, enjoying the relative silence (I can hear some shouting in the hallway, someone walking by, the distant sound of a movie or a TV show, and happy sounds from the playground outside) while I write this blog entry.

Here’s to silence… and writing… and photography… and having fun… and learning… and Quebec Roots!