remembering 9/11

Teaching 9/11: The Vow to Never Forget Finds Its Future

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“It’s always OK to say, you know well, I don’t know the answer to something….”

Inside Ebenezer Bassett Hall there's a batch of Central Connecticut State University students embarking on a unique educational journey.

Classroom 206 is where they meet every week to enhance their understanding of what led up to September 11 in New York and the aftermath that would follow.

Here's the catch - many of them were either too young to remember, or not even born yet.

“Eight months pregnant, yes, she was actually supposed to be going to a meeting in the towers," Victoria Janelle, a CCSU junior, explained of her mother.

Janelle's mom was weeks away from giving birth to her and was in New York at the time of that day's events.

She buckled down on the subway underground when the two planes struck the World Trade Center.

“She just told me that there was no cellular service, everyone was freaking out around her," Janelle said.

There's a natural curiosity and thirst to find out more information about the deadliest terrorist attacks on American soil in U.S. history.

“A great opportunity to open my eyes to how history has changed forever, security, living, economic, political, business, it all changed everything in the way we think," said Ayesha Choudhery, a junior.

“The course itself gives you know gives a lot of context and shows how complex, this topic is," added Ted Sheridan, a senior.

Dr. Matthew Warshauer leads and created the course, entitled 9/11 Generation.

“They really don’t necessarily know anything," he explained of his young students. “What my students find out is that there’s a much bigger story to 9/11, one that precedes the day and one that has followed us all the way up to this moment in time.”

The history professor has a few goals for the class, one being the following:

"History is not just about names, dates and factoids that it is living and breathing that it’s about asking questions and trying to arrive at answers and that you might not always arrive at the same conclusion that other people do," Warshauer said.

Teaching the leaders of tomorrow about 9/11 exceeds the borders of CCSU's campus.

In fact, you can head right down the street to Classical Magnet School in Hartford.

“Firsthand knowledge is a powerful tool when you’re teaching history and to be alive and know so much firsthand about living history is kind of empowering," Regina Leonard, a social studies teacher, explained.

Leonard remembers vividly what went down that day because she was teaching a group of eighth-graders.

“It was such a teachable moment which was so powerful but yet at the same time, it was really hard keeping it together and not really knowing what was going on," she explained.

Every year she prepares a Sept. 11 lesson plan while creating new ways for students to remain engaged. That's where group discussions kick in.

“I’m hoping the students...understand the magnitude of what happened," she said.

These conversations have opened up the door for Meschac Zion Hercules to understand what occurred on the day.

“Really breaking down the detail what had happened, just like the event, you know schools never really had us go into the aftermath of what that meant for the Middle East or for America," the senior said.

The main objective when the discussions and books come to a close is a better understanding of 9/11 and the ramifications of the event.

“It’s not just about 9/11 but it’s the aftermath of all the other things that have come with the aftermath of 9/11 with questions about trust in government, questions about our economy," Warshauer said.

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