Wallace State students ‘Help Them Tell Their Story’

Wallace State Community College student Dawson Culver interviews Ralph Brooks at Woodland Village during the “Help Them Tell Their Story” Serve projects as part of the PULSE Student Development Conference. (Grace Knetter)

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – “Not all education comes from books,” is one message a student learned, appropriately enough, during a project in which a group of Wallace State Community College students visited with residents of Woodland Haus and Woodland Village in Cullman to learn first-hand about historic events from people who experienced them.

More than a dozen students participated in the “Help Them Tell Their Story” serve project during the two-day PULSE Student Development Conference. The project was initiated by Iman Humaideh and Tanya Shearer of the Wallace State Genealogy Department, located in the Wallace State Library. Students spent time interviewing and visiting with residents of Woodland Haus and Woodland Village. The purpose of the project was for students to learn about history from people who actually experienced historical events in the 20th century.

Students relived events such as the Great Depression, World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam. They learned about everyday life in previous generations: children’s games, household routines and what life was like for teenagers in the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s, in the days before the Internet and cell phones. Students learned to play bingo and Rumicube and worked on puzzles with the residents. Student Grace Knetter captured the moments in photographs and Kailei Griggs shared homemade cookies.

“Students came away with an understanding of the experiences of people in previous generations, their joys and perseverance through trials,” said Shearer. “Residents were able to pass on ‘life lessons’ to another generation and new friendships were formed as a result of this project.”

Student Dawson Culver said his visit with Ralph Brooks left two impressions on him that he will take with him for the rest of his life.

“Throughout my conversation with Mr. Brooks, he repeated to me a lesson he learned over the course of his nearly 90 years of life,” Culver said. “He stated that the key to being a success in this world is to apply one’s self. This wisdom can be applied to any and all aspects of life, from education to relationships to careers. Those words really touched my heart.

“One last thing he said to me was, ‘Not all education comes from books,’” Culver added. “I took that quote to heart, and I plan to apply it to my career and my life. The lessons learned from Mr. Brooks’ past will impact my decisions in my life.”

The inaugural PULSE (Pathways United for Learning Service and Excellence) event was held Oct. 1 and 2, with students choosing to participate in at least three of more than 60 workshops offered throughout the two days, more than a dozen serve projects, and two keynote address by comedian Mike Goodwin. The purpose of PULSE was to provide students with professional and personal development opportunities focused on service, success and excellence.

The PULSE committee was led by Dr. Kathy Buckelew and included Dr. Andrew Ball, Ricky Burks, Gail Crutchfield, Todd Hardman, Jim Malone, Gary McMinn, Penny Rodgers, Jeremy Smith, Dr. Ryan Smith, Jon Stephenson, April Sutherland, Dr. Aletta Williamson and Christine Wiggins.

Wallace State student Grace Knetter poses with Woodland Haus resident Ranelle Gray during the “Help Them Tell Their Story” Serve projects as part of the PULSE Student Development Conference. (Tanya Shearer/Wallace State)
Wallace State students pose for a photo with Woodland Haus residents Jeanette Gibbs, seated at left, and Adilee Bartlett, seated at right, during the “Help Them Tell Their Story” Serve projects as part of the PULSE Student Development Conference. Standing from left are Isabelle Garlowich, Hannah Dempster, Te’a Seely and Sydney McDougal. (Tanya Shearer/Wallace State)