We were Rachel’s teachers in Local Knowledge, an interdisciplinary, full time program that carried through the academic year 2001-2002. When Rachel was killed in Gaza on March 16, 2003, we, like so many others, had to come to terms with the shocking reality of a promising life cut short. We are grateful to her mother, Cindy, who said, “Parents can be awakened by their children,” to her father, Craig and sister Sarah, and to the staff of the Rachel Corrie Foundation who have honored Rachel’s commitment to justice for Palestinians, her love of writing and expressive art, her focus on community connection, and her search for ways to engage in social justice work with her neighbors.
To us, Rachel was a humble and gentle person; she did not see herself as “larger than life”, much less a hero or martyr in the making. In 2003 we wrote, “We choose to remember her learning and growing, finding her voice, testing out her capabilities and figuring out what mattered to her. We remember her in the context in which we knew her best—as part of a learning community of students with whom we worked during the academic year 2001-2002. At her 2003 memorial those students shared some of their memories:
We are reminded of the lessons we shared and poked and prodded with Rachel. So many words and ideas, so many acts and attempts at discovering our own ability to act, and collaborate, and build and discuss.