Military partnership rewarded
Between October 2019 and May 2020, Suffolk Archives worked with the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath, the Department of Defence Education Authority (DODEA), and Performance and Pen storytelling, to create a special project which would explore young people’s experiences of arriving and living in Suffolk.
In early November 2020, the partnership was thrilled to hear that they were to receive an award as part of the Military Child Education Coalition organised Pete Taylor Partnership of Excellence Awards 2020. These awards were set up in 2004 to recognise successful partnerships and projects that ultimately benefit military-connected children.
The project invited the five schools serving the Lakenheath base to use items from the archives as inspiration to express their opinions and share their stories with local civilian communities, as well as those on base.
The students produced a wide range of responses, all self-directed, including two discussion piece interview style videos, a filmed play and documentary, two printed advice booklets, oral history recordings, and a wide selection of drawings and artwork. Much of this developed into a pop-up display entitled ‘I Have Three Homes – Life as an American Military Child’.
Some of the students work, which compares and contrasts their experiences with those of American military forces arriving in Suffolk during World War Two, can be seen in the Global Events: Suffolk Stories exhibition which is currently on display at The Hold, until 10 January 2021. Their work also features in an online display.
This partnership and its outputs are a wonderful example of how the National Lottery Heritage Fund supported Sharing Suffolk Stories programme is helping Suffolk Archives reach diverse new audiences across Suffolk and further afield.
A virtual awards ceremony took place during the Military Child Education Commission Annual Summit, from 17-18 November and partners will be provided with a framed certificate in recognition of their success.
Mrs Ellis, a teacher at Lakenheath High School said, “Collaborating with Suffolk Archives on the community heritage project has been an amazing opportunity to ensure that education transcends the classroom for my students.
“My students were deeply impacted to learn that America’s arrival to Suffolk also brought segregation to the local community. Specific Suffolk villages became designated for black servicemen, and black servicemen could only visit some of the larger towns on designated days. Needless to say, this has profoundly impacted their view of the scope of America’s segregation laws.
“Furthermore, my students were able to explore the differences and commonalities between England and America, highlight what it means to be a ‘third culture kid’, as well as addressing what makes a place feel like home. A phenomenal project and experience for my students.”