When students in Professor Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt’s 9/11 literatures class expressed frustration at their generation’s lack of understanding of the repercussions of 9/11 and the ongoing “war on terror,” Dutt-Ballerstadt gave them a choice – forgo the final class paper and instead take action.
The students chose action.
As a result, they have constructed three large walls on the Linfield College campus as a part of their project “Wall on Terror.” The walls, located near Walker and Riley Halls and Nicholson Library, each represent different aspects of war including casualties, war debt, creative reflections, living soldiers and veterans. Students hope the walls will prompt discussion and encourage people to ask questions as well as talk about how war has affected them personally.
“We’re hoping to challenge the community to get informed and perhaps give them a basis of information to jump off of,” said Shauna Koester, a Linfield junior in the class.
Students will discuss the project at two events – “Legacies of War and the Liberal Arts: Learning from Difference,” Monday, May 19, at 4:30 p.m. in Ice Auditorium in Melrose Hall; and “Wall on Terror Reflections: Community Dialogue,” Tuesday, May 20, at 4:30 p.m. in 219 T.J. Day Hall.
Dutt-Ballerstadt, at Linfield since 2004, has been inspired by the collaborative nature of the class and the impact of the student-initiated interdisciplinary civic engagement.
“This is a powerful example of what students can do with their ‘bookish’ knowledge combined with creativity and urgency beyond their classroom space,” said Dutt-Ballerstadt. “As a faculty member, nothing is as wonderful as beginning to learn from your own students!”
In addition to designing and building the walls, the students are recording the process and the reactions of peers in a video.
“One of the biggest things I’ve learned is that war doesn’t end when the battles end, and wars don’t start just one day,” Koester added. “Scars from the war dig deep into our culture and impact the way we interact with other cultures and people.”