9/11 1st Hand

We lead student travel to New York City. What’s it like for Brian Mathis to guide trips to his former home city?

9/11 Tribute

by Brian Mathis

On the twelfth anniversary of 9/11, I was invited to teach at a Montana middle school. Twelve years ago, I lived in Lower Manhattan and experienced that terrible day first-hand.

This 8th grade social studies class has been learning about using primary sources in history. Their teacher asked me to talk with the students about 9/11. While there, I was also happy to answer the student’s questions.

“I’ve witnessed a shift over the past few years – early on during my travels to New York City with Global Travel Alliance, I noticed that the kids remembered 9/11 as an event they knew and experienced. Now I’m starting to notice that students see it more as an important moment in a distant history and part of our American Heritage.”

For the students, it was a chance to speak with someone who was there – a primary source. The most common questions were those that any historian would ask: Who was responsible, what was it like, why did it happen, where were the attacks and when, etc.

“I remember my parents talking about the JFK assasination and my grandfather talking about Pearl Harbor in such vivid detail, so it was a strange position to be in, talking to young people about something that happened when they were infants and toddlers. As I answered their questions, I couldn’t help but marvel at the transformation, from first-person experience to a moment in history. It really hammered home the important role of great teachers who bring history to life.”

You can read more first hand accounts and about the 9/11 Anniversary from NBC New York. Interested in taking your students on a once-in-a-lifetime experience to NYC? Check out our American Heritage Program.

Brian Mathis works at Global Travel Alliance as the Special Projects Coordinator and is a Fulbright Scholar who knows several world languages. You can read a bit more about Brian and the rest of our team or send him an email.

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