Voices Education Project

Voices Education Project provides a wide spectrum of materials for educators on topics of war, peace and government. What makes this resource particularly rich is that the videos, images and writings they offer focus on stories of individuals in historical context instead of  historical time lines and facts. It’s how history should be taught – through the eyes of the people who lived it.

“Hidden Battles” is featured on their homepage for the next few weeks, and has been added to their section  “Films to Help us Rethink War.” Because we love the work they are doing, we will donate 15% of any regular priced “Hidden Battles” sales made with the code VEP at check out. To learn more about them, read the interview with VEP director Marilyn Turkovich below. Their Facebook page is a wonderful stream of provocative quotes by leaders from around the world. Follow them on facebook

What prompted Voiced Education Project to form?

Voices [Education Project] began in 2004 when we produced a film titled “Voices in Wartime” that used poetry from soldiers and civilians to help people understand the trauma of war. The film inspired our nonprofit modus operandi: story-telling in the service of peace. In the last three years we have conducted teacher forums, participated in workshops and panel discussions with veterans, sponsored education projects with students to capture voices of refugees and survivors of war, and created a comprehensive website that archives works in the arts and humanities that relate to war and peace. Through our website we offer free curricula, extensive film/video and book bibliographies and maintain a daily blog and provide an opportunity for our community to publish their own stories.

What attracts you to the work that you do with VEP?

My background is in education, and getting people to consider their perspective, and to embrace other views, questioning what’s in front of them as a given, and working to promote a more equitable world is what Voices is all about. It’s always been important for me to allow everyone a voice, and to be as inclusive as possible. I am convinced that once we get to know people from other places in the world, as well as next door, it is difficult to turn our backs on them.

What is your role at VEP?

Like most people who are in my role, coordinator or director in a non-profit, my work varies from day-to-day, project-to-project. I write a great deal, post materials, seek out grants and work on fundraising, solicit material and keep in touch with our Voices community. In addition, each year we try to work on a major educational venture which I direct: publishing a Voices community booklet on peace, sponsoring an education workshop on Iran, creating an education packet on “Words and Violence” and now, working towards an on-line conference on Afghanistan.

What do you offer to visitors of the site?

Voices maintains a comprehensive arts and humanities archive on issues of war and peace. For example, we have complete poems from 120 poets who have written about and during World War II. We offer complete collections of writings and artistic renditions of work and provide opportunities for our readers to create legacy projects such as Playback (stories that need to be heard) and occasional thematic offerings (Children in Wartime, Women and War, etc.). Also, Voices provides the materials “talked about” or “outlined” in other sites through various approaches:

• Reflective Writings and the Arts [literature, poetry, art and music from close to 70 countries
• Education Packets for use in the classroom
• Extensive on-line “biblio-and-film-graphies” (many linked to previews and some to full presentations)
• On-line exhibits Another important aspect of Voices’ material is that it comes in the way of a story and not just as “pure encyclopedic” information. It is grounded in reality as well as moments in time.

What is the ethos behind Voices Education Project?

Voices is about the business of building peace through capturing stories. Every voice is important, every story told, reflected on, discussed, debated, refuted can possibly lead to ways of thinking and acting in the cause of non-violence, community building and alternative actions to severe conflict and war. While we recognize that conflict is inevitable, we envision a world in which nations, communities and individuals move beyond polarization and destruction. We sincerely believe that the world is changing for the better, though the struggle is a difficult one, it is possible. We are committed to providing the fuel that powers the “peace engine.” We believe it is through storytelling and the arts and humanities–relying on international voices of the past and present–that we can help sustain our efforts.

What can individuals do to help fulfill the mission of VEP?

Use our website and Facebook page to expand and challenge their thinking. Spread the word to educators that there are thousands of pages of “free” materials for their and their students use. Take action in anyway that is practical to one’s ability to work towards collaboration and partnership building that can lead to a more equitable and respectful world. I would certainly be remiss to say, support us in any way you can: volunteer, write a blog, react to a posting, and contribute monetarily so we can keep doing what we are doing.

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