by Bryan Jackler
Students were presented with the opportunity to listen to anthropologist and public speaker David Good of the Good Project in a unique assembly put together by Social Studies Teacher Mr. Ryan Daly. The assembly was held in the auditorium during periods 4 and 5 on Nov. 25, and included a presentation and a question-and-answer session.
At the assembly, Good spoke of his uncommon background as the son of an American anthropologist father and a Yanomamo mother. The Yanomamo are an indigenous tribe residing in the Amazon rainforest of southern Venezuela that engages in little to no contact with the outside world. Good’s father, Kenneth, lived with the Yanomamo for graduate work when he met his wife. However, when Kenneth had to return back to America, his wife was only able to accompany him for five years before homesickness forced her back.
Good described his childhood as a conflict between his backgrounds and felt betrayed by his mother before he understood her decision to return to her home. As a young adult, he embraced his Yanomamo heritage. Eventually, Good was able to reunite with his mother on his first of three visits to Venezuela. Good now ventures once every two years into Yanomamo territory to connect with his culture.
Daly said: “Indigenous groups throughout history were seen as uncivilized and primitive by others with more advanced technology and civilization. Many cultures have been destroyed as a result of this, and many continue to face challenges today.”
Senior Tom Rohwetter, who attended the assembly with his Spanish class, said: “The most enjoyable part of the assembly was when he was talking about his experiences with venturing to the region and his reuniting with his mom and family in the [Yanomamo] tribe. It was just really neat, as he said, to see the striking similarities between his father's ventures and also his own ventures.”
Daly said: “[Good’s] story is incredibly unique, but also universal in dealing with the power of love and family. His account of coping with loss and struggling to find his own identity during adolescence will definitely resonate with many students.”
Good’s message to the students was to embrace everyone around you, as his experiences have taught him that no matter what a person looks like or does, he or she is still human.
The Good Project, founded by Good, is described as “a non-profit dedicated to embracing and celebrating indigenous peoples while serving as a trustworthy bridge between influences of outside contact and their traditional world,” according to jointhegoodproject.com. The organization raises funds in order to supply indigenous tribes around the world with tools, such as fish hooks and machetes, that enable them to continue their survival. It also serves as an intermediary between the tribes and national governments when deforestation and other related projects could impact the daily tribal life.
More information on the Good Project and how to combine can be found at jointhegoodproject.com.