In the 1800s, freed slaves from the United States colonized what is now the Republic of Liberia and modeled its government on the American one. After a military coup in 1980, the country suffered through a civil war from 1989 to 2003, leaving 250,000 dead and the economy devastated. In 2005, democratic elections were held and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf won the presidency. Her administration pledged to rebuild Liberian schools and improve child literacy. In 2012, Lynda-Marie Taurasi visited two primary schools in rural Liberia to document the efforts of a teacher training program through audio and photography. The project’s title is a line from the Liberian National Anthem.

Lynda-Marie Taurasi is a former journalist now working for a nonprofit in international development. Before her career change, she reported for the News & Observer and its sister publications, Free Speech Radio News, and the MTV Radio Network. In 2010, a feature series she produced for WCHL in Chapel Hill won a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Use of Sound. Until recently, she taught English as a Second Language and ESL-based American civics and politics at Durham Technical Community College.

This was the final project for the Certificate in Documentary Arts at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. See more Spring 2013 final projects at cdsporch.org/archives/18602.

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