Telling the Story of Our Town

Secondary school No. 45 “Presidente Sarmiento”, Huillapima, Catamarca province, Argentina.

"Oral history as a tool for the meeting of generations and as a possibility to tell our story"In 2017, with an assignment done in class designed to assess local needs, students from sixth year took up the challenge of getting the protagonists of the history of Huillapima back. During this process, they identified the lack of general knowledge about the history of the town and its heritage. As part of this issue, they identified many streets that did not have a name and others that had it, but little or nothing was known about who they were referring to.

Using the techniques of oral history, the students gathered information and presented ordinance projects to name the streets of the town.

To compile the different stories, the students discussed selection criteria in order to establish who was considered important and why, by means of surveys and interviews with neighbours. They later investigated the lives of ten of the selected people by the community, wrote the biographies and translated them into English. The students made bilingual bookmarks and a small book to disseminate their findings, and they were part of the ordinance projects that they presented to the local Council to name the streets that did not have one, which included the street in which the institution was located.

During their project, the students put techniques of oral history into practice as a tool for fostering an intergenerational meeting, the research of local history and the strengthening of activities related to heritage and tourism. They used ICTs to systematise information, produce informative brochures and posters. After analysing the proper legislative procedures, they presented and defended the project in several Council sessions. During a special session, with the presence of the students, the Council signed the ordinance project into law, giving a name to five streets.

They had ten outstanding personalities of the town reviewed and the election of the name of five of them to name streets that until then did not have one, by means of Ordinance of the local Council No. 524/17. In addition, they produced tourist brochures in Spanish and English with the selected biographies and put together the publication "Voices of our History" with the ten profiles of the people of Huillapima.

Subjects in which the service learning project was carried out: social sciences, language and literature, political science, foreign languages, geography and mathematics.

This school is a finalist in the Presidential Prize “Solidary Schools 2018” awarded by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology of Argentina.