Why do people leave their native country? What difficulties do they face in their journey? How easy is it to get used to a new culture? Can an immigrant be at home in America without losing his or her identity?
What does it mean to be in another person’s shoes? What does this perspective give us? How does understanding inform empathy, and how does empathy build companionships? Are our best friends the ones that are like us? What about people very different from us— how are those friendships formed? What do they give us?
What makes a hero? Whom do we admire? What can we learn from stories of others that will affect our lives? What makes a “life well lived”? Do our lives have stories that others may learn from?
Why do myths, fables, fairy tales, and folk tales seem to have an appeal for everyone around the world and in every culture? What do we learn about ourselves and our own lives? Are there stories from our families that get told over and over?
How are our identities shaped by our individual experiences? What is the role of tradition in building our awareness of ourselves? How do we try to preserve cultural or family memories? Do we repeat the past or choose to change our path?
Have you ever found yourself “caught” between opposing cultural values (my holiday vs. yours, from Maine vs. “from away”, cross-country skiers vs. snowmobiles, the “right” way to raise a child)? Immigrants may face these and more.
What makes a community? How do communities come together? How do we decide who belongs? How can we find our own place in our community? If we lose community, can we find it again?
Is conflict part of human nature? Can or should we avoid it? How do our own inner conflicts contribute to conflict with others? What escalates conflict? What part does power play in creating and resolving conflict?
What do we mean by “courage”? Does courage imply the absence of fear, or are there other components to courage? Can courage be displayed by ordinary people in everyday pursuits? How is courage connected to personal conviction and making choices?
Is being different good or bad? Who decides who is different? Why do we judge by appearance? Should we change if we or others think we are different? Do differences have an important role in society? Are they valuable?
Is freedom a right? What are the differences between an individual’s freedom and the freedom of a group of people? What are we willing to give up in order to have freedom? What are other ways to have freedom besides fighting for it?
Who are our friends? Are friends in the family different from friends “outside?” What responsibilities does friendship bear? How do we honor our friends? How is friendship represented in stories?
What is giving? How does giving relate to receiving? Does it matter how we give? Can we give to someone we don’t even know? What makes it easy or hard to give? Does giving cause people to change?
What is history? Who determines history? Can history be made by ordinary people? What is the meaning of freedom, loyalty, treachery? How is history changed by acceptance or rejection of new ideas and values?
What does home teach us about ourselves and our place in the world around us? What are the expectations we have for home? What happens when our needs are not met by our experiences at home? How do we go about shaping our personal conceptions of home?
Is there a relationship between hopefulness and patience? Are there ways to maintain hope in the face of day-by-day disappointment? How does hopefulness relate to the passage of time? What are some ways to derive encouragement and energy? Can we find ways to endure when an endpoint is not clear? Do stories of the struggles of others help us to understand our own challenges?
What sort of journeys have we taken? How did we get where we are today? Can we see our lives as a journey? How have we changed during our journey? Did the journey end as we expected? Are we still on a journey? What is our next journey?
What is justice? Who controls it? Does it come from within ourselves or from outside? Does everyone understand justice in the same way? What responsibilities do we each have to uphold it?
How does it feel to be without food? Without shelter? How can we deal with hunger and want? What kinds of compromise are possible? How can we keep up our spirits even when we feel helpless? What attitudes are our most precious resources?
Are memories significant in our lives? What keeps them alive for us? How “true” are our memories, and does this make a difference? Is it important to pass memories on? Do memories alter when we share them? How do our memories make us who we are?
What does freedom mean to us? Is equality essential? Why is it important to challenge accepted assumptions that inequality is “just how it is”? What avenues of thought and action can lead us to change? How do the courageous actions of our forebears affect our own actions? What role do patience and persistence play in achieving a goal?
What are the everyday experiences, for better or worse, that make up life? What do we mean when we say “That doesn’t happen in real life” or “That’s life!”? What is it about our families, our friends, ourselves, that makes us laugh or cry or just keep going?
What happens when a conflict can’t be resolved? What do people need to bring to the table for getting along peacefully? Is conflict necessary for growth? Do we learn from it? What happens when there’s an unfair resolution?
How do we tell our own stories? Why are they important? How do we decide what to tell? What do we learn from telling our own stories? From reading others’ stories? How and why do we share our stories with others?
How can we make the most of our personal resources? How do we confront unexpected challenges? What can help us deal with uncertainty, fear, or disappointment? Can we find new strength when we acknowledge our own accomplishments?
Should everyone learn to read? How does the world discriminate against the non-reader? If reading is hard, is it worth the effort? Does becoming a reader change you? How can you pass on the joy and power of reading?