International Friendly

By Joel Charron

It was the opportunity of a lifetime for 150 local students as they travelled across Lake Erie to learn about the War of 1812.

Grade 7 and 8 students from local schools boarded the Jet Express ferry which whisked them to Put-in Bay for a summit with 150  US students.

“Paths to Peace: A War of 1812 Arts Legacy Project” is an international history and art education project targeting middle school students from Canada and the United States that coincides with the bicentennial of the War of 1812. Paths to Peace interprets the War of 1812 and the long-lasting peace between nations that were once at war –Canada/Britain, First Nations/American Indians and the United States – from multiple perspectives through the cultural arts.

“It was really fun learning about all the history of the War of 1812 and all the detail behind it,” said Stella Maris student Michael DiPetro.

 

US and Canadian students spent the day in Put-in Bay that Thursday learning about the War of 1812. The project is known as Paths to Peace.

Paths to Peace will provide a life-long learning experience while educating future generations about an important piece of history that is fairly unknown to both American and Canadian residents. It will also connect students to the concrete historical sites, the social and cultural milieu of the time, the war’s outcome of 200 years of peace and result in the creation of artworks, both visual and performing, speaking to that legacy.  Through international dialogue students will learn about one another’s history and cultures and be given the opportunity to appreciate the very real differences in national interpretations of historical events.

DiPetro said he has a greater respect of the War of 1812 and the people who fought in it, noting that he was “amazed” that the soldiers fought with such bravery with very little utilities.

“This was definitely a great learning experience,” he said. “This has taught me to be more brave as a person.”

There were three components to the event. Students heard oral history, dabbled in art and culture and got a physical feel for the times from the interpreters through demonstrations.

Stella Maris principal Bridget Russo said the students had an “amazing time” connecting with the US students.

“We came together in workshops and were able to connect and learn about the War of 1812 as  one instead of two separate countries,” said Russo.

Russo added the Paths to Peace workshop is “extremely important” especially for those students who live in Amherstburg.

“It really gave the students insight into exactly where they are standing and the history that took place in this area,” explained Russo.

Russo described a moving moment when the two countries exchanged flags.

“In the closing ceremony we gave them a Canadian flag and we were presented with a American Flag,” said Russo. “It was a very beautiful moment.”

Russo also mentioned that the Paths to Peace gave the students a different perspective on the War.

“They read about the War of 1812 but today they were able to see it and experience something truly special,” she said.

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