It is very common in the United States when meeting a new person to ask them “Where are you from originally?” In her poem “Peaches,” Adrienne Su, a Chinese American who grew up in the state of Georgia, sheds light on the complexity of answering that question when you are both “stranger and native.” This poem reflects upon the complex identities many Americans grapple with—a critical factor to consider as our nation continues to evolve into a twenty-first-century American community characterized by wide diversity.
The following sequence of activities is designed to help students think about the connections between food and identity that Adrienne Su evokes in her poem. The activities also seek to level the playing field among diverse learners, by including multiple ways to enter, experience, and explore the meaning of the poem. Feel free to adjust the activities to meet the particular learning styles and needs of your students.
A Note about Vocabulary
Ask your students to keep a running list on the front board of the words they read and hear, but do not understand. You can either conduct a separate vocabulary lesson about these words during which students try to figure out their meaning from context and connections, or review the vocabulary as you progress through the other activities.
- Students will identify how food is representative of culture in different ways and express that through original poetry.
- Students will explore a poet’s use of sensory imagery and rhyme scheme to bring a poem to life.
- Students will empathize with Americans whose families have come to this country as immigrants and identify as both “stranger and native.”
- Students will generate their own questions to further explore the meaning of the poem.