This year Cristina Hargis was selected to participate in the 3rd World Congress of Teachers of the Korean War. As part of being chosen, the Destrehan High School teacher engaged with a new curriculum book on honoring sacrifice and attended the Korean War Veterans Wall of Remembrance Dedication Ceremony.
“In order to get selected, I had to fill out an application explaining how the Congress would enhance my teaching of the Korean War and why it is important for students to learn about the Korean War and Korea,” she said.
Hargis traveled to Washington D.C. from July 25-28. Not only did she and other teachers participate in professional development concerning Korea and the Korean War, they also attended the Korean War Veterans Wall of Remembrance dedication ceremony. Select teachers were invited to witness the unveiling of the new memorial with the families of the fallen, in addition to meeting and hearing stories from Korean War veterans.
The group also delved deeply into the Korean War Legacy website- https://koreanwarlegacy.org. According to the website, the goal of the Korean War Legacy Project “is to assist teachers, students, and the general public in understanding the origins and outcomes of the Korean War, the challenges that soldiers faced while fighting it, and its rich legacy promoting democracy and freedom in the world today.”
Hargis said the week-long experience was incredible.
“Interacting with Korean War veterans and hearing their stories first-hand really puts into perspective how much they gave in order to help secure America’s freedoms,” she said. “Korea is sometimes known as the Forgotten War, but organizations like the Korean War Legacy Foundation are diligently working to change that narrative. To be selected to work with not only the Foundation, but veterans, advocates, and fellow teachers has been an honor and an amazing opportunity. Not only will the content and lessons learned here have an impact on my own personal development, but I received many tools in order to help our students have a deeper understanding of the Korean War and the lasting impact it had on both the United States and Korea.”
This month Hargis begins her 19th year at DHS.
“I student-taught there and then was offered a full-time job. I have never taught anywhere else and never plan to,” she said. “Teaching is my passion, and it is a part of everything that I do and everywhere that I go.”
Hargis currently teaches sophomore AP Human Geography and AP Environmental Science.
“I teach about Korea in my AP Human Geography class,” she said. “I teach about the Korean War extensively in my Political Patterns and Processes unit. I was honored to be selected to travel to South Korea on a learning tour in 2019. While there I learned a great deal about the Korean War, from Japanese Imperialism to visiting the War Memorial of Korea in Seoul. I incorporate so many artifacts from that trip into my lessons, including pictures of the War Memorial and the DMZ, snippets of lectures in which we were privy, and physical artifacts like an authentic piece of the wire fence from Korea’s DMZ. Being able to attend the World Congress of Teachers and the dedication for the Korean War Veterans Wall of Remembrance Dedication Ceremony was an honor.”
Hargis said now that she is back home she is hoping to make connections with local Korean War Veterans.
“One of the tasks that the teachers of the World Congress of Teachers of the Korean War were assigned is to either interview Korean War veterans or to transcribe previously recorded interviews in order to add the veteran’s story to the Korean War Legacy website,” she said. “This is not the history of some far away event; it is the history of the people that live in St. Charles Parish.”
Anyone who served and is interested in speaking with Hargis can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.