Sites of Memory

Front side of the House of Slaves, slavery, slave-quarters

©UNESCO/R. Dominique

Facilitate a class exploration of the concept of public memory and memorials.

  • Essential questions:  What is memory?  How do we remember and memorialize people / places / events?  Why is it important to remember our history?  What is a site of memory? Is memory connected to culture?
  • Essential questions connecting memory to TST: What happens when we forget parts of our history? Can you identify any local TST sites?  Where are these sites located? Are these sites well-preserved? Is it important that our community preserves these sites? What actions might you take as a class? 


Activity: Ask the learners to document a local TST site of memory. Learners might create brochures, PowerPoint presentations, and drawings. Information to include might be:

  • Describe and document the physical site. Include drawings or pictures.
  • Why is the site important? Why did you choose this site? What is its history?
  • Is the site preserved? Is there a historical or place-marker?
  • Why are sites of memory important? What roles can students play in memory and preservation?
  • Extension: Take the students to the site for a first-hand experience if possible. Do a pre-departure orientation to fine-tune expectations, and a post-visit evaluation. Did expectations match the real experience?

Twinning ideas: Consider collaborating with another TST school to explore the importance of sites of memory.  As a class, write an answer to the following questions:  Why are sites of memory important? What role can students play in memory and preservation? Consider writing a joint statement advocating for the preservation of TST sites of memory.

  • Activity with Technology
    Create an e-forum or collaborative website (e.g. wiki, Google group, or digital blackboard).  Post the class statement and student-generated work.  View the work posted by the other class.
  • Classical Activity
    Create and mail a ‘sites of memory’ packet. Include the class statement and student-generated work.


Students from twinned schools in Cuba, Spain, and the Gambia make history come alive

ASPnet Gambia

“Making history alive: Sites of memory”, student twinning among IES Luis Seoane from Spain, IPVCE Che Guevara from Cuba and and Nusrat Secondary Senior School from the Gambia 

The project “Learning from the past, understanding the present, building the future together” brought together 90 students (aged 15 to 18) and three schools from three continents. Research was initiated within each school, results shared and views compared with those of the partner schools. Various means of communication were used to make exchanges substantial, namely new technologies of information and communication (e-mail, Skype, telephone), but also traditional mail. Traditional mail was particularly important to allow Nusrat Secondary Senior school’s active participation, as access to ICTs in the Gambia remains costly. Exchanges took place at least every two weeks – this regularity was one of the key elements for project success.  

Twinning was a strong peer learning experience and as such particularly valued interaction and the spirit of team-building. Also, by confronting different ideas, views and research results, students gained a fuller understanding of TST. Before launching the exchanges, careful preparation was made for getting to know partners’ social, geographical, cultural etc. realities. This increased the students’ understanding of their peers’ living conditions and their capacity to get the maximum out of the project. 

Presenting the TST sites of memory was a popular topic for exchanges. Visits to memory sites create a concrete link from the past to present. In addition, visits are in most cases guided by people who are very familiar with the history of TST and/or the site in question. This further adds to the visits’ informative value. Within the framework of this twinning, visits were organised in Cuba and the Gambia. In Cuba, students made a trip to “Central Marcelo Salado Lastra” and in the Gambia to James Island (where a fort was used as a slave collecting point until 1820), the village of Juffureh, and the slave house of Janjanbureh. Visit material was later on shared with the Spanish twin school.

Two productions of this twinning in particular can be highlighted:

A digital book on TST which serves as a compendium of the research conducted by the three schools More (Spanish version)

Another tangible product and important means of communication was a blog created for the schools.  More

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