Monday, April 27, 2015

The Holocaust's Final Voices

As I stated in an earlier blog post, my students recently read The Diary of Anne Frank. This activity is one that all eighth grade students at my school participated in and students explored the topic of the Holocaust in depth through print and multimedia.  While the Internet is powerful, nothing beats an eyewitness account of events.  Since I have time in my schedule this year to coordinate events, I arranged to have a Holocaust survivor visit my school and speak with a group of approximately seventy students.

In preparation for this event, the students arrived dressed to impress.  They came prepared to listen and even more important, prepared to ask insightful questions.  The students were able to use their background information to make connections to the speaker's experiences and most were able to relate when she touched on her experience of arriving in this country without being able to speak a word of English. Towards the end of the event, we held a reception and the students enjoyed using this time to view the family photos that the speaker brought.  They also took "selfies" with the speaker and told her about their own families.

Many of the students took the time to personally thank me for arranging this event.  It was not lost on them that they are most likely the last generation that has the privilege of learning about the Holocaust from an eyewitness.  As privileged as we were to listen to her, I admit that I am still grinning from ear-to-ear as she called me a little while ago to reiterate how much she enjoyed meeting the students.  We took several group photos and I plan on sending her a framed copy of the best one as a thank you gift.  I arranged this event through the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's Survivors Speakers Bureau.  With any luck, this event will become an annual tradition at my school.

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