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An ambitious classroom assignment has turned into a dramatic, multimedia project showcasing the stories of 16 students and alumni of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh who have fought in the Iraq War or are waiting for deployment.

Journalism students in Writing for the Media – a one-semester, entry-level journalism class – put together “War: Through Their Eyes,” a full-color, illustrated book; a series of podcasts; and a photo gallery that bring to the forefront a war that has been reduced to a few paragraphs in newspapers and soundbites on the evening news.

“I’ve been carrying around this idea for several years, really, since the Iraq War began in 2003,” said journalism instructor Grace Lim. “Since I teach future journalists, I talk about the media coverage of the war. It took a student who is a veteran to remind me that behind every number is a person with a name, a face and a voice.

“Now that I know I have students who sit in my class who’ve seen the war in a way you and I will most likely never see, I want to know who these young men and women are. I want to feel what they felt, see what they saw and hear what they heard,” Lim said.

Among the stories are those of 23-year-old Chris Albright, who served in Iraq from 2006-2007 and now finds it difficult to do many things college students take for granted, including attending football games or other crowded events. Another student, 24-year-old Nate Wilhelms, learned about the vagaries of war when one of his friends was killed on a mission for which Wilhelms was considered.

The project will be unveiled at a public event from 5:30-9 p.m. May 15 in the Steinhilber Gallery in Reeve Memorial Union, 748 Algoma Blvd. A Web site with excerpts from the book, podcasts of the interviews, a photo gallery and a video documenting the project is located at www.uwosh.edu/war.

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