“Extraordinary new student-friendly website on Central America … powerful stories … an invaluable resource.”
– Teaching for Change
“This is an incredibly useful resource for my geography, history and human rights courses. The design is elegant, the content engaging. Well done!”
– Elizabeth Oglesby, Associate Professor, School of Geography and Development, University of Arizona
“My students LOVED this website! We broke into collaborative groups to take notes on the individual stories, and afterward each group presented information about the journey that they followed. This is a beautifully humanizing website, and it tied in perfectly with our unit on ancient Mayan and modern Mayan culture. Thank you again for this wonderful resource!”
– Lana Cook, Middle School Humanities Teacher, Haddonfield Friends School, New Jersey
“More than four million Central Americans live in the United States, yet the lack of resources in the schools on Central American heritage makes it difficult for teachers to infuse that history into the curriculum. Also missing from the curriculum is the direct connection between U.S. foreign policy toward Central America and immigration to the United States. To address this gap, Patricia Goudvis and Alice Stone have created a beautiful interactive website. The website draws on interviews Goudvis conducted 20 years ago with young people in the midst of the wars in El Salvador and Guatemala, as she was making the film If the Mango Tree Could Speak. The website also includes excerpts from follow-up interviews of those same people decades later. What better way to overcome the invisibility of Central America in the curriculum than with people telling their own stories? Middle school to adult.”
– Rethinking Schools
“This beautiful and moving project provides insight into the lives of children in Central America who were victims of war in the 1980’s and lived to talk about the aftermath as adults. The video footage and interviews in both Spanish and English, which often take place in remote mountain areas during and after the war, provide viewers with a glimpse into these lives in ways that would be difficult to grasp without being on the ground in Guatemala or El Salvador. The teaching materials allow the user to go deeper into the subject matter and to understand the context for the stories told.
“This curriculum would be very useful for social studies teachers, language teachers of Spanish or English, professors of educational psychology or human development, and teacher educators. We are using this online curriculum in our Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education program as part of a biography unit designed to help future teachers of bilingual and immigrant students gain insight into the resiliency of young people who have experienced war, and to better understand the immigrant and refugee experience.
“Pat Goudvis and her associates have produced a highly engaging interactive website using first person narratives, video clips, links to informational texts, maps, references, and suggestions for further reading. The online experience brings history and the young people and their families into our own lives in an unforgettable way. A more powerful learning tool for developing empathy and historical understanding would be hard to find.”
– Dana Walker, Associate Professor, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education, University of Northern Colorado
“Thanks so much for your website. I love it and the students loved it!
“We used the jigsaw method of cooperative learning. Each student in a group had a different child from the site to shadow. After viewing the website, and taking notes, students with the same child got together in expert groups to compare notes, and to decide how to present their child to their own “home group”. The home groups then met, and all children were discussed. Finally, each student had to write an essay to compare the situations of two of the children. I will do this again this semester, but this time I will have students blog their thoughts.”
– Patricia Smith, Senior Lecturer in Spanish, World Languages & Cultural Studies Department, Suffolk University
“I love to use your website to help educate students in my Global Studies class. As a refugee resettlement city, the stories of civil war often resonate with my students, whether their families are from Southeast Asia, East Africa, or elsewhere. They see echoes of what happened to themselves or their parents, in the stories of the children from your site. Thanks for making this!”
– Molly Strother, 8th Grade Global Studies Teacher, St. Paul, MN
“I was impressed by the honesty and compassion in which the stories were portrayed. I also liked how the past and present intertwine in each tale. I think you are making a difference by creating a beautiful, and at the same time, unadorned compilation of people’s lives with the purpose to educate others about the consequences of war.”
– Yenori Forsyth, ESOL Literacy Center, Utah
“Historically, our classroom has studied the Classic Maya every other year. We wanted to look closely at this study this past fall, to see if there were any problematic pieces and to make sure that it was a study that respected and honored a group of people of which we teachers are not a part. After a lot of reflection and revision, we decided this year to incorporate modern stories of Maya people, and of those who live in areas that were originally Maya homeland. We positioned these stories through a lens of the current immigration debate, to study some factors that led to immigration from Central American countries.
“Your “When We Were Young, There Was a War” website was an invaluable resource for us, and we created a mini-project from it. After spending weeks on the Classic Maya time period, and then a couple of weeks on the more modern history of, and U.S. involvement in, Central America, we watched “If The Mango Tree Could Speak” together as a class. From there, students working in pairs were assigned one of the six characters from the WWWY website. Students spent time reading and watching all of the resources for their specific character, taking notes on important experiences, feelings, and factors in each story.
“Students were asked to represent the experiences of each WWWY child in a visual way. After looking at and discussing how colors, collage, textures, and abstract art can represent deep feelings and events without being necessarily graphic, students brainstormed how to visually represent the experiences of their particular child. They were each given a large, blank head on which to put these visual representations, and then wrote what each artistic choice represented. As the majority of our students in this school are aged 7 and under, we needed to make sure that we used abstract art instead of creating potentially gory or scary images for which the younger students would not have a context.
“This WWWY project, taught in tandem with reading and completing assignments on Journey of Dreams by Marge Pellegrino, was thoroughly engaging and meaningful for our students. It will absolutely be a mainstay of this study in the coming years.
“Thank you for bringing awareness to voices who generally are not heard. It’s vital work in our current world.”
(To see a photo of exhibit click here.)
– Lauren Obregón, 5th/6th grade teacher, The Common School, Amherst, Massachusetts