Why Ben Linder?
Why is it important to learn about Ben Linder?
  1. Through examining the death of Ben Linder students will have a better understanding of the Contra/ Sandinista conflicts that affected Nicaragua.
  2. While there were certainly others carrying work similar to Ben's, this activity focuses on Ben and his death because his life and death were well documented from different perspectives (including his own), and his life provides an interesting window for understanding the Nicaraguan revolution.
  3. Readers of his story can relate to him on one or more levels (as a young American/ Sandinista supporter/ Nicaraguan resident/ political activist/ engineer). Just as the Diary of Anne Frank provided an invaluable insight into the Holocaust not captured by history books, so too should the excerpts from Ben Linder's journal offer a powerful and personal view into what it was like for people living and working during the Contra wars in Nicaragua. This personal approach is missing from our understanding of many world events. Through standing in someone else's shoes even temporarily, we allow ourselves to see our world in a new light and even question our own perspectives.
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    Why a WebQuest?
    Rather than simply telling students what happened, it is valuable for students to learn for themselves through hearing from individuals directly involved (such as Ben Linder's accounts in his diary). While Ben's accounts explain much of his experience. No one perspective can tell us everything. What he sees through his eyes may be interpreted completely differently by others with different information and perspectives. That is why we include the articles by the local, national, and international press. You will notice subtle differences in the tone each writer has when describing Ben Linder's life and death.
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    What is the purpose?
    This exercise is intended to encourage students to question their sources of news, their reasons for their opinions, and even the unequivicol trust often attributed to one's government. Through understanding the mistakes made by the U.S. government and even recognizing the possibility that they could be making mistakes, students should be inspired to develop a critical mind for politics and the complicated factors that contribute to how policies are carried out. Through examining different original sources, students can learn history first hand.
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