High school students interview, connect with veterans

Written by Muleskinner Staff


(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — The Wall That Heals will be on the west lawn of the James C. Kirkpatrick Library from June 29-July 2, affording people the opportunity to experience the monument without having to travel to the nation’s capital.

There are those on campus, however, that do not see this as the end of their efforts, but rather are using this as something of a beginning.

As part of the exhibition of The Wall That Heals, Amber Clifford-Napoleone, McClure Archives and University Museum director, and Nicole Hume, development manager at KMOS-TV, collaborated to film interviews with Vietnam vets conducted by UCM students. After the exhibit leaves, Clifford-Napoleone said those interviews will be uploaded into a cloud and area high school teachers will be given access so they can use those filmed interviews in their classes.

“We’ll have the contact information for them,” she said, “so that if they wanted to bring a Vietnam vet to school and have somebody talk, they’ll be able to do that.”

In January, area high school teachers were invited to participate in a focus group designed to illustrate some of the reasons why the Vietnam War isn’t regularly covered.

“What they said was, ‘Well, we don’t talk a whole lot about the Vietnam War experience because we didn’t learn about it, and we don’t have resources for it, and we’re not sure how to teach it,’” Clifford-Napoleone said.

To further this aspect of the project, Clifford-Napoleone brought in Star Nance, assistant professor of education and social studies director.

Nance said she saw an opportunity to reach two separate groups of students simultaneously.

“She’s teaching that to her college seniors,” Nance said, referring to the filmed interviews conducted by Clifford-Napoleon’s anthropology students. “Now what I want to do is take that curriculum and implement it with my social studies students, who then can in turn teach it to high school sophomores.”

Nance said the plan was originally to use the interviews conducted by the UCM students as models for in-class instruction, but found an opportunity for the high school students to go out and conduct their own audio-recorded interviews with military veterans. Later this month, those students will present these interviews to an audience that will include Nance and Clifford-Napoleone, as well as administrators from the university and the high school. This gives them an opportunity usually afforded to students much further along in their education.

“They’re 10th graders, 16-years old,” Nance said, “and they’ve already done original research. They’re doing collegiate level work of a 4000-level class, and they’re 16.”

This project gives students an opportunity to connect with an era that Nance said is different. She said learning about the Vietnam War is crucial to making that connection.

“You cannot look at it from a lens of 2017,” she said. “You have to look at it from a lens of 1969. And if you don’t know your history, you can’t look at it through that lens.

“That’s why my students need to learn this stuff as well, so that when they get out, hopefully they’ll take this curriculum with them and take it to their new school, and then teach their students how to do this.”