Connecting generations through storytelling project

Connections through the Veterans Heritage Project allow students to grow and U.S. veterans to share their stories and engage with others.

High school students who participate in Veterans Heritage Project (VHP) interview a veteran as they take notes and record. After the interview, the students put together a narrative about the veteran’s experiences.

Sabrina Arevalo, the granddaughter of a Vietnam War veteran, was the VHP chapter president at Notre Dame High School in Scottsdale before she graduated and pursued a postsecondary education.

Through interviewing veterans, leading other students and writing the narratives, Arevalo explained that she gained valuable skills throughout her time with VHP.

“I need to be able to speak with veterans who are much older than I am and be able to be professional and talk to them and also just be comfortable. Being able to talk to people at every different stage of life is a super important skill to have- I believe- going into any job,” Arevalo said.

Interviewing veterans and writing their stories in a way that is understandable and compelling has strengthen Arevalo’s writing skills, as well.

“The information they give you is interesting enough, but being able to write it in the proper format and make it flow, that has seriously helped me with my school papers… It’s just extra writing that doesn’t hurt, it only helps,” she explained.

The skills the students develop and strengthen through the program prepare them as they move onto postsecondary education and other career endeavors.

“It puts into practice so many things they’re going to be required to do post high school. Whether it be the writing, the personal connection, the conversation, being able to take a conversation and translate it into written word, the constant editing of that creation is great practice as well,” said Heather Deremer, Queen Creek High School world history teacher.

Deremer is approaching her fourth year of leading students through the VHP.

“They’re learning about respect and accountability and following through and being grateful and persevering. I think that’s something you see less of, but you wish you’d see more of. Our students shine in those areas,” said Michelle DiMuro, VHP executive director.

The students are not the only ones who gain from VHP. Through the project, the veterans have the opportunity to tell their stories and connect with other people throughout their community.  

“It is able to solidify their own legacy because not only is it published in a book but also in the Library of Congress, so it is there forever and for some that is the beginning of their healing process because many of them don’t speak about their experiences to others,” Deremer said.

“It is very healing for them. Some of them have never told their stories before. It starts a conversation with their family and it connects generations,” DiMuro said.

Sierra Ciaramella

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