|Why is it important to learn about Ben Linder?
- Through examining the death of Ben Linder students will have a better
understanding of the Contra/ Sandinista conflicts that affected Nicaragua.
- 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
- 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.
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.
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.