(March 21, 2002, Gazette)
Newfoundland and Labrador has garnered international attention through
the media of literature and film. Most recently, representations of
the province have been flashed before the eyes of wondering audiences
through adaptations of books such as The Shipping News, Rare Birds
and Random Passage. A group within the Faculty of Education
hopes to offer more to these wondering minds a learning vacation.
The week-long excursion will consist of morning presentations and
discussions, afternoon tours and activities and evening entertainment.
The purpose is to offer a learning experience that is fun, while at
the same time challenging, and discusses how Newfoundland is represented
through popular media.
The idea has been in the minds of Dr. Roberta Hammett and Dr. Alice
Collins for more than a year. With the success of The Shipping News,
Dr. Hammett decided it was time to put the idea to work and approached
others in the Faculty of Education to see who else was willing to
work on such a project. She and Dr. Collins were joined by Mike Coady,
Dr. Clar Doyle and Dr. Andrea Rose, and the group decided to focus
on The Shipping News for the first of what they hope will be annual
The concept is formed around the notion of culture - what does it
mean to people? Dr. Clar Doyle offers that this learning vacation
is built around the concept of culture and what it means outside
the institution, extending and examining the concept. Multiple
representations of Newfoundland exist in the public sphere, whether
created by Newfoundlanders or by others. Dr. Alice Collins notes that
The Shipping News offers one representation of Newfoundland.
We are interested in multiple texts, whether they are novels, paintings,
stories, all the different ways that Newfoundland is described and
Through the presentation and discussion of different aspects of Newfoundland
culture, the group hopes to challenge uni-dimensional and simplistic
images of our province.
The partnering of formal education with tourism might first seem unlikely,
but this group proposes to join popular tour-travel and lecture-style
presentations to promote discussion and critical thinking about representations
of Newfoundland and Labrador. They envision the adventure being interactive.
Part of the program involves having participants present to the group
their own thoughts, images and representations of the province, near
the end of the week.
Although the learning vacation seems to target people outside the
province, the agenda is tempting to Newfoundlanders as well. During
the mornings, there will be lectures and presentations while afternoons
involve trips around St. Johns and the bay, visits to museums,
art galleries, wharves and piers. In the evenings, participants will
be entertained with poetry readings, recitations, plays, songs and
The program boasts traditional Newfoundland favourites such as a kitchen
party, an official jigs dinner and a pub crawl
along George Street. The week is organised around theme days. For
example Day 6 is titled, Weathering It All and focuses on how the
climate of Newfoundland has impacted the culture, including how the
locals have met the challenges of living with the weather and how
it has infiltrated everyday language.
The committee is interested in hearing from faculty from other departments
and disciplines who are interested in getting involved. They are talking
with other groups and people in the community, as well as Tourism
Newfoundland and Labrador and local businesses, and have received
great enthusiasm for the idea. The Learning Vacation will run for
the week of Aug. 11-17, 2002. The committee has already had people
express interest, including people who have read, and some who are
teaching, The Shipping News in their classrooms. For more information,