The inspiration for this project came from a student comment, “We learn a lot about the challenges and problems in the world, but what about how people overcome them?” And with that, Portraits of Resilience began. For the first iteration of this project, 50 students conducted 1:1 interviews with 50 veterans to explore these three essential questions: (1) In what ways does war affect human resiliency, (2) How can we resolve conflict aside from war and (3) Why do people fight? During the interview, students photographed their veterans. After the interview, students wrote vignettes to accompany the photographic portraits and capture their veteran’s spirit. The portraits were printed into full sized posters and were also published in a book along with the final written vignette. The final products were exhibited on the USS Midway Museum for a week and all veterans were invited to attend our evening exhibition.
What was particularly powerful about this project was seeing how motivated my students were. I attribute much of this to the authenticity of the audience and the location for exhibition; people totally unaffiliated with our school were really counting on the students to produce excellent work. Throughout the project I consistently heard student remarks such as, “I really want my veteran to be proud,” and “I need to make sure that what I write truly represents who they are.” This combined with the high visibility of having their work on display in a museum pushed students to raise their own standards and exceed the high expectations that were set.
Everyone has a story to share and their responses may surprise you.
This project really opened my eyes on the different perspectives of war.
To learn more about this project and others, visit