The following is a guest post by Kahlil G. Chism, Education Specialist at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum.
This past July, twenty social studies teachers from the states of Illinois, Mississippi, North Carolina, and fifteen cities in Georgia participated in professional development training as attendees of The Camp David Accords 35 Years Later: Looking Back to Discover Future Prospects for Mideast Peace, the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum’s 2013 Summer Seminar for educators.
During a week filled with hands-on document analysis activities, archival research opportunities, off-site experiences, and lectures from professional historians and former Carter administration officials, teachers refined their skill at using primary sources to develop critical historical thinking, and increased their knowledge of Middle Eastern history and U. S. foreign policy leading up to and during the Carter years.
This September will mark the 35th anniversary of the signing of the Camp David Accords. At Camp David, the presidential retreat in the Maryland mountains, Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel and President Anwar Sadat of Egypt met with President Carter for thirteen days, September 5 – 17, 1978. President Carter used his personal influence to bring these two leaders to a point of agreement. He knew that if these meetings failed, the result might be another war in the Middle East. The successful result of these meetings was the Camp David Accords, which were signed on September 17.
The Accords are two frameworks or outlines for peace that led to an Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty the next year. The first accord outlined ways to give people of the West Bank and Gaza more political rights. The second accord suggested ways for Israel and Egypt to have peace between them. The Sinai region would be given back to Egypt, and Egypt would recognize Israel as a nation.
One of the highlights of the week for many participants was a chance meeting with former First Lady Rosalynn Carter while they were on tour in the award-winning museum – where the Peace Accords, Peace Treaty, and President Carter’s handwritten notes are on display – as well as a private question and answer session with President Carter, where they had a chance to fill in any gaps in the historical scholarship about the facts and significance of the Accords. You can see video clips of their interactions with President Carter on the museum’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/CarterPresidentialLibrary.
“The professors and speakers…were all wonderful and had so much information to provide,” according to one teacher via anonymous survey. Another said, “This is the best professional development experience I’ve had in 13 years of teaching. It was an amazing experience!”
If you’re interested in participating in future professional development training opportunities at the Carter Library, visit http://www.jimmycarterlibrary.gov/education/