Where Were You? Rhizomatic Reflections on the Memoirs of Students Who Were Children at the Time of September 11th, 2001

Open Access
Nagy, Kyrah E
Area of Honors:
Childhood and Early Adolescent Education
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Stephanie Cayot Serriere, Thesis Supervisor
  • Stephanie Cayot Serriere, Honors Advisor
  • Jacqueline Edmondson, Faculty Reader
  • 9/11
  • trauma
  • children
  • school
  • September 11th
  • teachers
  • issues
The field of trauma studies offers numerous recommendations on how contentious events—such as the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001 (9/11)—have been handled and should be handled by those who work closely with children. Having always struggled with large-scale traumatic events personally, I found myself wondering what impact teachers’ and caregivers’ words and actions on 9/11 and in the days following had on the children under their care. I pursued this wondering by interviewing five students1 from the Pennsylvania State University—one aspiring social studies teacher, one aspiring education policy-reformer, one aspiring music teacher, one aspiring elementary school teacher, and one aspiring school psychologist—all of whom were elementary school children at the time of 9/11. I collected these persons’ recollections and reflections on their experiences related to 9/11 through an oral history method of collection. Following the interviews, I transcribed and compiled their memories into a memoir format. Referencing Deleuze and Guattari’s (1987) exploration of rhizomes, I analyzed the ways I was transformed as a becoming-researcher and becoming-teacher, the ways the participants transformed others, and the ways the participants were transformed via human connection. I assert that human connection transforms relationships and experiences in the context of traumatic events in indefinable ways and consider what this study means for teachers, administrators, and policy makers.