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Find the meaning for you in a world event

When big things happen in the world, how do they affect you? "Sociobiography" looks at how the big story of the world relates to the little story of you. It follows in the tradition of sociologist C. Wright Mills, who emphasized the link between changes in society and the individual. For example, the end of Apartheid or the fall of the Berlin Wall opened up opportunities for many people that previously had seemed impossible. Those events changed lives in a real and immediate way.

The legacy moments that happen in the world are the ones we particularly connect to as individuals. A "historic" moment is any occurrence that may be a first – a simple time reference. A "legacy" moment is transformational; it adds a fundamentally human dimension to a time marker. A legacy moment is about a bigger ripple through time. It's built on what has come before, and changes what comes after. It is usually an empowering moment that speaks to people on both a personal and community level. The concept of legacy is fundamentally the most powerful concept we have for addressing the challenges of the twenty-first century. It's about understanding the big picture, the ripples through time that come from the past and proceed to the future.

What legacy moments have taken place during your lifetime? For example, if you were born in 1995, some of the big events that have happened include:

  • NASA's Pathfinder module lands on Mars, 1997 (you were 2 years old).
  • North Pole ice melts (1.5 km of open water) and global warming becomes a big issue in the news, 2000 (you were 5 years old).
  • Terrorists destroy World Trade Center, September 11, 2001 (you were 6 years old).
  • Shuttle Columbia was destroyed during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere, February 1, 2003 (you were 8 years old).
  • Indian Ocean earthquake/tsunami kills 290,000, December 26, 2004 (you were 9 years old).
  • Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastate New Orleans, August/September 2005 (you were
    10 years old).
  • Barack Obama is elected the first African-American President of the United States, November 2008 (you were 13 years old).

Choose one of these events or another significant event that you have strong feelings about – that is, a legacy moment for you. You can check out the Internet and books to get ideas. The website www.ourtimelines.com allows you to enter your birth date and it will generate a historical timeline showing your lifetime in the context of other historical events.

For many people, 9/11 is a legacy moment in a very sad way. It changed the way they look at the world and how safe they feel. For many people, the election of Barack Obama as US President is a very positive legacy moment. The lives of people who have achieved great things often inspire us to do great things; the dreams and achievements of one lift up the dreams and achievements of another. Said The Washington Post the day after the election: "It is momentous for the generational change it heralds, the geographic realignment it reflects and the racial progress it both acknowledges and promises. [It is] momentous for the opportunity it presents to put the country on a new and better path, imbued [as Obama said in his election night speech] with a new spirit of patriotism, service and responsibility."

Once you've chosen a legacy moment, start to explore its connection to you. To do this, use the writing tools of a journalist. On the blue page in Dream, six superstar life questions are outlined:

There's a whole world to figure out…
Who you are
What's important
Where you're going
Why you're going there
When the right time is
How it all fits together.

What do you think this text means?

Journalists around the world use those six questions – who, what, where, when, how, and why – to explore events and make sure they answer all the questions people might have. Use the six questions to write about the legacy moment you've chosen and its connection to you. For example: Where were you when the event happened and how do you remember hearing/learning about it at the time? When did it take place in terms of the moment in history and the moment in your life? What happened and what are the most important elements of the legacy moment for you? Who is involved and how does it relate to who you are or people you know? How do you think the event directly or indirectly affected you and your life in terms of your outlook/philosophy, ideas, feelings, behavior, and choices? Why is this event important to you and your life?

Wrap up your exploration of the legacy moment by writing about what you've learned about the event and its impact on your life. How does the big story of the world relate to the little story of you?

© www.legacyproject.org


Paper and pen
Optional – books
  about historical
  world events;


Schools (social
  language arts; life
Youth groups