Free-Willed – Family and World History — The North Star Reports – by Johanna Jurgens. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal
Families and cultures throughout the centuries are not that different from how they are today. I’ve found many connections between my family and thousand-year-old cultures and realized that every person has to adapt to something new.
My Italian grandfather – my mother’s father – immigrated to the South of Brazil around the beginning of the 1900s. The South was chosen because of its colder weather, which is more similar to the weather in Europe than that of northern Brazil, so it would be easier for my grandfather to adapt. However, my grandfather was not the only one to immigrate to Brazil; many families from all over the world, especially Germany, Japan, Italy, Portugal and Spain, were seeking a better life. The largest influx of immigrants settled in Brazil from 1872 to 1972. People immigrated mostly because overpopulation and industrialization in their home countries resulted in shortages of jobs. Since many of these people were farmers, they moved to the United States or Brazil due to the vast amount of unoccupied land following Brazil’s independence in 1822 and abolition of slavery in 1888. Brazil needed farmers to come to work and help the country rise economically since there were no more slaves to do the farm work. Many started working on farms and soon had enough money to buy their own land, and that’s what my grandfather did. Much like the United States, immigrants comprised much of the Brazilian population.
My grandfather was able to buy many acres of land and create his own vineyard. In the process of all this, my grandfather met my gypsy grandmother. My grandmother had to adapt to my grandfather’s customs. She began working on the farm, and from what I heard, she was usually the one who gave the orders. She even made her own ritual with the other women who worked at the farm. At the end of every week they would get together to dance, listen to music, and drink chimarrão (a drink similar to tea). She also learned how to make exceptionally good Italian food, and was always a great contributor to the family reunions which usually happened every weekend after a hard week of work. Similar to the Greek symposium, my family would cook a lot of food and eat for hours and hours. My family has always drunk a lot of wine, so they always had plenty. But unlike the Greek symposium, women participated in the reunion as much as the men did.
During the family reunions and family meals during the week, they ate typical Italian food. It was all handmade spaghetti, polenta, bread, cheese, tortellini, gnocchi, cappelletti soup, crostoli, and many other kinds of food. My whole family had a part in cooking and it was an excuse for the family to spend more time together. Recipes were learned from our parents or grandparents. It was much different from today, when we usually learn how to cook by recipe books, which I believe has destroyed the family’s time together.
For my family, it has always been considered an art to make food taste the best you can. Food has always played an important role for my family because it was always a good excuse for gatherings, and eating and loving food is a trait we share. Food has played an important role in most cultures; its importance throughout history is clear.
My family has always been free-willed much like the people of the Etruscan civilization, where women were seen as equal in power to men and were given the same rights. I’ve realized in my family there were no roles which different sexes had to play; my family has always done what they thought was best. My grandmother is a perfect example– she went to live with the gypsies just because she wanted to. But because. At first I did not understood why my free-willed relatives were often seen as crazy but now I do. By listening to our hearts and not following society’s standards we are bound to be seen that way. It’s a good thing we don’t mind. [From Professor Liang’s 2014 World History II class.]
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The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our program. We also welcome Duluth East High School and other schools around the world. The North Star Reports has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:
The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing reviews of books, documentaries, and films, projects on historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers.
We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.
Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA
(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org The NSR is sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact chief editor Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu