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Four Questions for Ryan Hegg

"We encourage folks to share this information with educators."

By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission

The Centennial Commission's efforts in the area of Education are among our most important endeavors. Ultimately, the mission of the Centennial Commission is to educate people, especially our coming generations, as the stories and lessons of World War I are their inheritance. We are thrilled to help our Education Department to roll out a new tool for educators -- a brief video entitled "Who We Were", which helps to describe the various resources available to teachers and students of World War I. We spoke with our friend Ryan Hegg about the new video. Ryan has long been with the Centennial Commission as a volunteer and as a staffer, and he was part of the production of this new video.

Tell us about the new video. What is it for? What audience is it designed to reach?

The Who They Were promotional video introduces the activity to educators in both school- and non-school settings. The video provides an overview of the activity and its goals, as well as some initial guidance on how to utilize the downloadable Activity Toolkit and Educator Guide.

What is the "Who We Were" program? Tell us about it.

Who They Were is a project-based activity that engages students in exploring their community’s World War I history and encourages them to participate in local commemorative activities. Using the free Who They Were Activity Toolkit, students create a short narrative about what their community was like 100 years ago, and how it shaped the men and women who served in World War I. This narrative can then be presented at their school or at a local event, and shared on the national Who They Were map. The activity can be adapted to grades 4-12, and aligns with key educational standards.

The video primarily targets educators, but the activity can also be completed by motivated individual youth!

How did the video come together? Who put it together for us?

The Who They Were promotional video was developed by National History Day with input from the WW1CC. It also incorporates feedback received from early adopters.

What is the next step/road ahead for the program, and for the video?

We are looking forward to seeing the program utilized by teachers as part of their World War I curriculum this spring, as well as in conjunction with the centennial observances of local celebrations welcoming troops home from overseas. We will also be rolling out a companion video targeting veterans groups, historical societies, and other organizations that may be planning homecoming observances or Memorial Day commemorations. In the meantime, we encourage folks to share this information with educators in their networks!