Manchester High School Students Receive Video of Responses From The Memory Project


This past November, the Manchester Essex Regional High School participated in The Memory Project, program aimed at building cultural understanding and kindness by providing handmade, heartfelt portraits to children, according to

A video was recently sent back to the high school from the organization that showed the reaction of the artwork being received in Nigerian schools, art teacher Tamera Burns said. 

In the video, Nigerian teachers unpack and hand students’ portraits of themselves drawn by American participants. They each get their portraits and run back to show their friends, excited over the drawings. 

“It was so touching to see those kids have that reaction. It was something that to many of our students here wouldn’t be a big deal, but that was such a big deal for them,” Burns said. 

Sophomore Libby McKinnon said the video was incredibly impactful for her. 

“We put our information with our handprints on the back, and at the end of the video, they said to touch your friend’s handprint with your hand. That was a big moment for me,” she said.

After being given a small amount of information on each child, such as their age, favorite color, and what they wanted to be when they grow up, students were able to choose who they wanted to draw, McKinnon said. 

Sophomore Joshua Cohen said he chose a boy named Bello, whom he was drawn to because of his serious expression. 

“His personality really came through in the picture, so I tried to get his personality to come through in the art that I made as well,” he said. 

Cohen said it was moving to look at the differences between the jobs these children wanted compared to jobs people in America want. 

“All the jobs were along the lines of a police officer or soldier or doctor. That is, jobs that allow you to help and give back to your country, whereas here, people want jobs that are more self-beneficial or more in the self-actualization realm than helping and healing people,” he said. 

Cohen said the viewing of the video was a moment of unfettered happiness that pulled on everyone’s heartstrings. 

“At times it can feel like there’s this big divide between us here in Manchester-by-the-Sea and people in African countries and whatnot, and it’s just good to both learn about other countries and also make connections with them,” he said. 

Burns said she thinks the school will participate in the project again next year, as it helps students to think about other people in a meaningful way. 

Stella Straub is a junior at ME Regional High School and writes for The Independent, the high school’s weekly newspaper.

Link to Memory Project Video: 

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