Remembering 9/11 in the Classroom

These past two years, in remembrance of 9/11, I read the story 14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy to my students. This book is based on this amazing and inspiring story of the Massai people in Africa and the responses they had after hearing about the 9/11 attacks. They decided to donate 14 cows to America in response. To the Massai people cows are really important to them. Their donation of 14 cows was a huge sacrifice for them.

I remember listening to Carmen Agra Deedy speak about her book at the Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project summer institute two years ago. She shared that she was reading this NY Times article that she thought was interesting and decided to do research on it. She ended up writing a picture book about it.  The full article is here: I was so moved by the story, I had to buy the book to share with my students in Korea.

On Friday, I asked my students during our community circle time if they knew what 9/11 was and only a few of them raised their hands. Most of them were only 1 or 2 years old when it happened.

I heard the news on the radio while in a van early in the morning, heading to Columbia. We were coming back from our early morning skating practice in New Jersey, back to Manhattan when we heard on the radio about how one of the twin towers were attacked by a plane. I think at first we were confused and shocked from the news. We didn’t really know why this happened and thought maybe it was some sort of accident. As we got back to our dorm rooms on the upper west side of the city, we immediately turned on our TVs to find out what was going on downtown. It seemed so surreal as the news kept replaying the clips of the airplane going into the towers. We were so close to it, yet so far. As our classes were canceled that day, the scene uptown seemed pretty normal, yet things downtown were in chaos. People on our campus and streets were out and about, eating at restaurants, and talking about the attacks. While people downtown were evacuating and calling home.

As I explained to my students about 9/11, more students seemed to remember hearing about it. I couldn’t help but feel a wave of emotions as I read in the story the parts about the attack. As a New Yorker and being in the city when it happened, a part of my heart will always remember 9/11.