Being a researcher who is interested in language acquisition and multiliteracies, I am constantly thinking about the reasons that contribute to language acquisition and learning and how we view literacy and cultural practices as interconnected. In reading the Research Coordinating Network’s project, the first term that was novel to me was “making”, how does it relate to literacy, and how would this look like among bilinguals and immigrant communities. This was the onset of my reflection process!
As an Egyptian immigrant, I did not know what making is and whether it existed in my culture. I was eager to read and learn about multiliteracies, making and makerspaces and equitable practices in education with English learners. By the end of the course, not only I had reflected on what I had learned about making, but I also connected it to my own cultural background. One thing that I realized about the Egyptian culture is how rich making practices were reflected in people’s histories, skills and “funds of knowledge”.
For example, weaving carpets are a traditional practice in Egypt that encompasses STEM skills in the process. Carpet weaving is not only interlacing strings, but also weaving history through art. The pictures on the carpets usually exemplify the Egyptian history and the unique ancient culture.
Reflecting on my home making practices as a parent, making was present in the home crafts that I made with my children. For example, we paint rocks to express our feelings and thoughts through colors. I remember during Ramadan, a month where people gather to break their fast together with their family and friends, we celebrated the holiday mostly at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. When the whole world was in quarantine, we spent our time during this month of fasting in creating crafts. We engaged in making Fanoos or “lantern” out of the materials we had at home to celebrate the holiday. The reason I am narrating these anecdotes is to illustrate how making comes out of a need. A need to celebrate something special, to share history or even to express our feelings.
These examples demonstrate making as a social and community practice as well as literacy practice. It involves researching, reading instructions, problem solving and meaning-making in the process. Socialization through making brings up our funds of knowledge and help us acquire new knowledge and skills in an implicit way. The experience I had working with the CRAFT team have had helped me reflect on my own knowledge of the Egyptian culture, community literacy practices, making and beyond.