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Meet Doba!

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Meet Doba! She is interested in getting to know everyone she meets, and she loves when she can learn about her classmates and members of her community on a personal level. Whether saying hello to a teacher, parent, or friend, Doba always offers a kind word and genuinely wants to know how their day is going. She is sensitive to the world around her and picks up on the mood of a room, making it her goal to uplift everyone and project a positive, hopeful energy. She loves spreading awareness for the causes she cares about through her music, and she finds creative ways to positively impact her friends, school, and community.

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MEET THE NEZ FAMILY!

Doba’s father, Sani, is a parks and recreation coordinator, and her mother, Chenoa, is a teacher. On weekends, Doba and her family love exploring the local hiking trails with their dog, Koko. They play an active role in keeping their community clean, beautiful, and welcoming for everyone.

DOBA’S INTERESTS

Doba is free-spirited and artistic and enjoys spending as much time as she can in nature. She loves going on long hikes in the mountains, but she is just as happy spending time in her backyard or at the park. Doba is a musician, and she can spend hours writing original songs. She finds musical inspiration not only in nature but also in art and music of the musicians she admires.

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WATCH DOBA’S STORY

HUMAN INTEREST STORIES

Each of the Fly Five characters has a unique story to tell. While they all live in the same neighborhood and share many interests, teams, clubs, and classrooms, they have different strengths, values, hopes, and ways of perceiving the world. The human interest stories offer students and teachers an opportunity to connect with the characters more deeply, as the stories are first-person accounts of an important moment in each one’s life. From coming-of-age reflections about family and faith to explorations of one’s place in their cultural history, these stories remind us of the ways we are all connected: through our relationships, our triumphs and struggles, and our ability to find hope and resilience no matter what challenges life presents.

DOBA NEZ

A Song of My Own

My parents sang traditional Navajo songs to me when I was a baby to help me sleep, and they say I’d hum along with them before I could even sit up. They said I sang before I spoke, and I believe them. Music is a part of me. It helps me communicate how I’m feeling and how I understand my place in the world. Singing and playing music keeps me connected with my friends and community, but most importantly it keeps me connected to my Navajo culture, language, and ancestors. My grandmother and my parents teach me songs that have been passed down for generations, and these songs remind me that our community and its amazing music have survived so much. Our music gives me strength and a sense of purpose.

This year, my friends and I performed at our town’s big block party, and I wrote my own song. I go on lots of hikes with my dad, and I was so struck by the music we heard outside—the water rushing over rocks, the call and response of the birds, and the crunching of leaves beneath our feet. I wanted to capture that in music, so I took an old Navajo love song with a rhythm that reminds me of crunching footsteps on leaves, and I made it my own. There are some words in the song that don’t translate to English, so I split the song into two parts: half of it is the original Diné lyrics, and the other half is in original English lyrics that I wrote. When I was writing it, I wasn’t concerned about people not understanding because I don’t think anyone needs to understand all of the words to get the message of the song. I hoped that by having Diné and English in one song, I could get people to lean in and listen differently. I was really excited to play it.

But as the performance got closer, I started second-guessing myself. My parents, grandparents, friends, and other relatives from the Navajo Nation were going to be there. What if they thought that I didn’t do our community’s music justice? The Navajo songs that I knew were passed down across generations, and suddenly the pressure to live up to that oral tradition felt heavy. Overwhelming even. This was my first time adding my own ideas to our traditions. I was using traditional Navajo rhythms and percussion, but I wrote and played the song on my guitar. I wanted to make my family proud, and I also wanted to make every member of the Navajo Nation proud. I hoped that I was honoring my culture while also making it my own. I hoped I wrote a song that my family would want to pass down to future generations just like the Navajo songs I know were passed down to me.

After I got off stage, my face was hot and my hands were still shaking when my grandmother pulled me in close.

“I’m so proud of you, Doba,” she said. “Your song was beautiful. You made us proud.”

Knowing that my grandmother was proud made me so happy. There is music everywhere, and it’s my job to share it in a way that is authentic and honors my traditions and culture whenever I can.

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RESEARCH

  • Fly Five is designed with the awareness that diversity and representation is a non-negotiable aspect of social and emotional learning. Central to this curriculum is our cast of nine characters who are grounded in authentic storylines that represent diversity of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, religious beliefs, family structure, socioeconomic status, and more. In creating the characters, we employed a careful, critical research process to ensure that their cultures, interests, appearance, and family structures are accurately and respectfully depicted.
  • Research for Doba examined her Navajo culture, heritage, and traditions; her family composition; and the lived experiences of Navajo people and communities.
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