Teacher invited to Southeast Asia workshop
Pepperell Middle teacher is one of 30 in United States invited to Southeast Asia workshop
Posted on 05/16/2011

Christy Davis, a 7th grade teacher at Pepperell Middle School, is one of 30 teachers across the country to be selected to participate this summer in a workshop about Southeast Asia. The three-week workshop, “Southeast Asia: At the Crossroads of World War II,” will be held at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii and is sponsored by the East-West Center and the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

This will be the third time Davis has been invited to participate in a summer institute to study Japanese and U.S. relations during World War II. She was one of 40 teachers in the USA and Japan selected to study at Pearl Harbor in 2008. In 2009, Davis studied Japanese history as reflected by art at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado. Davis uses the information learned in these workshops in her classroom at Pepperell Middle School. One contact made at the 2008 institute at Pearl Harbor has led to a project to provide support to students in Japan impacted by the recent earthquake and tsunami. Davis has coordinated schools and students in Floyd County building “good will” boxes to be sent to schools in Japan. The boxes will include flags signed by local school children to show support for the Japanese children and small items of good will. The boxes will be mailed tomorrow afternoon to the schools in Japan. “I have been really touched by the response of our schools and our students to this tragedy in Japan,” commented Davis. “Our students even included a touching message printed on a piece of denim that was manufactured at the Lindale Mill before it closed.” 

According to the Crossroads workshop’s website, “Major historic forces of colonialism, imperialism, revolution, capitalism, and nationalism, coupled with ideologies of fascism, communism, and democracy were at work in World War II (WWII). This history, as told in textbooks and classrooms, overlooks the pivotal role of Southeast Asia in WWII and the momentous changes that affected the people of Southeast Asia and completely transformed the region.” 

The Crossroads workshop also provides a useful platform to help teachers encourage investigation, analysis, and problem-solving—crucial skills for today’s students. By taking a familiar topic such as World War II and examining it from a new vantage point, that of Southeast Asia, teachers can connect content to students’ prior knowledge, teach both concepts and content, and help students developing crucial learning skills. Davis said, “These crucial skills help my students evaluate past knowledge and assumptions, and build investigation, analysis, and problem-solving skills that are crucial for today’s interconnected world.” The NEH Summer Institute will enable participating teachers—and ultimately their students—to construct a broader knowledge base from which to think about the evolution of contemporary international relationships.”