When we spent the weekend in Walla Walla last fall, we stopped by the Whitman Mission for a little leg-stretching between visiting wineries. As you would expect, the NPS provides plenty of information on the history of the Mission. CAM surprised us by sharing what he had learned in his Washington State History class about the Mission, it’s importance as a way-point on the Oregon Trail and the tragic tale of the Cayuse and the Whitman Killings – this was a surprise because he strongly protested having to spend any time learning any history at the time.
After I took these photos, I walked along the trail after my boys a little disconcerted that there was something about the Mission and the Oregon Trail that I was missing. The light-bulb went off in my head as we were driving away: 1847, the peak year of the Great Potato Famine in Ireland. As you might imagine, everything about 1847 is a fairly central part of history lessons in Irish schools. It was a little shocking to realize that my children won’t even learn about this in their classes.
Living in the U.S., I don’t feel like an expat since I don’t have to deal with language or cultural differences (I do have huge gaps in my pop-culture knowledge, but most friends agree I could rectify that if I’d just watch more TV). This was an abrupt reminder that yes, I am an expat – and my children are not.
I promise, I won’t be assigning them tracts of Irish history to read at bedtime. Hopefully, if we visit Ireland often enough, they’ll be motivated to learn about it themselves.