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More than 24 hours of air travel, the International Date Line and thousands of miles of open ocean separate Greenville from Saipan, but next summer a pair of East Carolina University researchers will call the island home thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

“Saipan’s Land and Sea: Battle Scars and Sites of Resilience” is directed by College of Education Associate Professor Anne Ticknor, with Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Associate Professor Jennifer McKinnon serving as co-primary investigator.

The $169,997 award allows Ticknor and McKinnon to host two one-week workshops for 72 K-12 educators on the history of military conflicts in Saipan. The program will host teachers from the island, as well as the surrounding region and the U.S. West Coast.

The project is part of the NEH’s Landmarks of American History and Culture program and will focus on historical relics of war and conflict.

“There are places in the world that you can visit and feel the history of conflict,” McKinnon said. “Saipan is one of those places. The battles that have shaped the island are very tangible. Whether it’s tanks rusting on the shore or bunkers littered across the landscape, the island is brimming with monuments to those who lost their lives.

“War is a universal experience, and our students today haven’t experienced a world where we’re not at war,” she said. “We hope this educational opportunity allows teachers to better connect with their students by making history ‘real.’”

The interdisciplinary project will take participants from the classroom and into Saipan’s jungle, beach and mountain environments. Ticknor said that the group would be out in the field learning the island’s history from local guides.

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Originally published Sept. 9, 2019.