Thursday, June 26, 2014

Reflections

Please reply here with any reflections you would like to share with our learning community - our small group and the Memorial Library, and, possibly, the larger HEN community.

    2014 Holocaust and Social Justice Seminar Participants and Facilitators with Holocaust Survivor, Bella Ouizel

17 comments:

Shannon Hunt said...

While this week was draining, it was so because I was trying to absorb and be present in every moment. I wanted to soak up the experience as a human, as a student, and as a teacher. I wanted to take back this experience to share with my students, and in doing so present them with accurate, meaningful, and appropriate knowledge. Summatively- AMAZING! In reflection, I am still in awe of this experience.

William said...

The past six days of the Holocaust and Social Justice seminar here in Westerville, Ohio have been a great adventure. I deeply appreciate the knowledge, passion and guidance of the three facilitators, the informed guest speakers, and all of the knowledge that has been imparted. The three facilitators are truly are "social justice" and "Holocaust Educators," and they have guided me in embracing that I am as well. I have learned something useful from each session, and I will particularly never forget meeting and hearing the eyewitness account of a Holocaust Survivor. It is a privilege to have been involved in this life-changing seminar.
-Sincerely, William Loudermilk

Anonymous said...

I have been teaching about the Holocaust for nearly twenty years, and came thinking that I was well prepared to do so. Suffice to say, I feel vastly more prepared having been connected to a number of powerful new resources and equally to some new pedagogical exercises that will help me do an even better job conveying this essential information. Thank you, Olga. Thank you, Sue, Stephanie and Casi! Will Wells

Katie Day said...

I feel so privileged that I was able to attend this incredible week of learning. I can't put into words all of the things I would like to leave here as part of my reflection. I have always had a love of learning for WWII and The Holocaust, but after this week, it is greater than ever before. This has truly been an incredible week, the opportunity to see and hear from the people that we have been lucky enough to meet with are experiences in my life that I will never forget. My classroom is forever changed because of this seminar and I cannot wait to revamp my unit plans to better include some of the things we have covered here. Thank you for this incredible opportunity, and thank you Casi, Stephanie and Sue for all of your hard work!
Katie Day

dchris174 said...

It seems trite to say that this week was life changing, but my thoughts about life, freedom, hardship and the beauty and value of EVERY soul has shifted dramatically - this really WAS life changing. I will not look at the news in the same way, and I doubt I will every click quickly past items that "don't affect me" on the web. Each person's story is unique and precious, and I may not even be able to see or truly understand that story, but I need to try like never before. I need to remain open, listen, and begin to figure out what actions I can take. This is the beginning.... Diane Christensen

Stephanie D. said...
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Catherine Lee said...

I am so grateful to have been able to participate in this seminar. This is a seminar that educates both the mind and the heart--the whole person. There has been great speakers, trips, resources, and good sharing of teaching strategies. I have learned so much and I am re-energized for my classroom. I can't wait to share what I have learned and received with my own classes and other teachers in my community who may benefit.

Teri P said...

My mind is reeling. We've cried and laughed and cried again. So many ideas for teaching, so much inspiration, a group of kindred spirits from two states and various grade levels. Awesome speakers, dancing, hugging. Some books read, some movies watched, and many more on the list to read and view.

Professional development that will actually make me a better teacher, that makes me WANT to continue to do this work.

Overwhelmed with gratitude to Olga and the Memorial Library for this opportunity.

Teri Poulos

JK said...

What a week of growth and learning! I appreciated this opportunity to hear first hand experiences from our guest speakers and gather new resources that I may use in the college classes that I teach. The learning began the first day and continued throughout the week. One of the questions raised the first day was: What creates a single story?

My response was: Do we want to create a single story? The purpose of education is to help learners realize that many single stories exist side by side. Those stories all have their own twists and turns, highs and lows. But there are times when these stories intersect. These are the points of "ah-ha" moments and common ground. The light bulb goes on, and learning occurs.

However, learning begins with listening. As I prepare to return to my community, I will be more intentional about listening to the stories of others as I share mine. Our stories weave together like threads to form the reality of the human community.

Again thank you for this opportunity!

Julie Kling

Eric Sottosanti said...
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Stephanie D. said...
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Stephanie D. said...

As a result of being an active participant in the Holocaust Educators Network Social Justice Seminar, my eyes have been opened to how to effectively expose my students to the effects of hate and intolerance in the world, and more importantly, how they can make a difference and become active participants in their community to forward the "never again" mentality. I feel as if the materials and the passion of the educators teaching the seminar enriched my experience and fired me up to want to share this information with my students and instill in them that their voices matter. It was an unforgettable week and I was able to gain a network of supportive educators with which I have a bond and can collaborate with in the future to impact our students' education positively.

Jon Stansell said...

The week of social justice education was profound and exceptionally well presented. As an English teacher that expects students to express their true selves through voice in writing, I have always looked for contexts that increase significance and self - awareness. The importance of individual moral choices in the social justice context provides a wonderful bridge between what is currently the dominant ideology in language arts - the cultural-rhetorical perspective - and incorporates exceptional practices and values that if allowed to be totally self-involved and solipsistic, are actually negative. Voice, self, virtue, and values are important not as a self-justifying system, like that of the National Socialist party, but within a context of awareness and tolerance of difference. Learning from diversity is the true aim of the ideal, not to overwhelm others with shallow representations. I have strong feelings as a person with physical disabilities, "gifted", a child of death/loss, of a single parent home, an outsider, friendless, and consequently labeled as a nerd until my late teens. I thank God that I didn't have to wear a badge that said "Mormon" because it certainly would have made things worse, and the religious practices that made my life exceptional and enabled my emergence as a successful individual was the best thing in my world, and indeed the foundation of my adult identity.

Ceci Maguire said...

I decided to come to see what was new. What an amazing week! I learned so much. One of my goals was to develop a Genocide Studies course. I could not do justice to it without this experience. My students will have so much to explore and experience.

Being a part of HEN gives me access to a wealth of information. I also developed a network of friends that will be there for guidance. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to expand not only my own horizons but also the horizons of those I encounter.

Eric Sottosanti said...


This week was very inspiring. Hearing the stories about those who witnessed genocide first hand really puts your life experiences in perspective. How can I complain about being stuck in traffic or getting something I don't like for dinner when the people we met so just happy to be alive.

I was also very happy to attend the Shabbat at the synagogue. It gave me a greater appreciation of not only the Jewish faith, but mine as well. I was able to see how Judaism influenced the rituals of the Catholic Mass.

Attending was a last minute decision that took 6 more days away from my family than I expected during my 2 week inter-session break from work, but it is an experience well worth that sacrifice. I will be encouraging other teachers I know to keep an eye put for future institutes.

Eric Sottosanti

Debby said...

I have just spent a riveting week in a intensive Holocaust seminar for educators that has included doing a variety of readings, engaging in interactive lessons, viewing images, listening to speakers that included a Holocaust survivor and an American World War II liberator, and participating in the shabbat services of a local Jewish congregation. I have learned about the dangers of the single story and the need to make human connections that eliminate those single stories. I have witnessed, through both print and personal testimony, the atrocities perpetrated upon the Jewish people and others by the Nazis. The concentrated exposure to these horrors of inhumanity is emotionally crushing. Yet, there is hope and beauty in the lives of those who survived, in those who resisted, and in those who risked their lives to rescue.

The week has also included the study of our own genocide of Native Americans and the genocide of Tutsi people in Rwanda. Making connections with people who are "other" adds dimension and richness to life. The image that has come to mind repeatedly is of a garden filled with a variety of flowers. A field of daffodils may be beautiful, but a field of wild flowers is breath-taking. I want the dazzling beauty of a multi-cultured world. Therefore, I must speak up for the marginalized, the disenfranchised, the abused, the slaughtered. Knowledge must be coupled with action.

The following prayer from the Jewish prayer book admonishes us to avoid complacency and self-centered oblivion.
Disturb us, Adonai, ruffle us from our complacency;
Make us dissatisfied. Dissatisfied with the peace of ignorance,
The quietude which arises from a shunning of the horror, the defeat,
The bitterness and the poverty, physical and spiritual, of humans.

Shock us, Adonai, deny to us the false Shabbat which gives us
The delusions of satisfaction amid a world of war and hatred;

Wake us, O God, and shake us
From the sweet and sad poignancies rendered by
Half forgotten melodies and rubric prayers of yesteryears;

Make us know that the border of the sanctuary is not the border of living
And the walls of Your temples are not shelters
From the winds of truth, justice and reality.

Disturb us, O God, and vex us;
Let not Your Shabbat be a day of torpor and slumber;
Let it be a time to be stirred and spurred to action.



The following is my reflection of this experience.

My stomach is a melon split wide within my skin
Filled up with the agony of millions.

Gazing into her eyes--connection with humanity,
Aghast at what she suffered.

She kissed my cheek, she who is not other.

Emotion bubbles up and spills over--sadness and joy intermingled.

I, who did not die, who am still living,
Must tell the story.

(two lines taken from "Making a Fist" by Naomi Shihab Nye)
See the following link for the digital story.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ib2vadgcdaE&feature=youtu.be

Vondra Hoop-Thompson said...

This week has been a life changing experience! I have always known the importance of teaching about the Holocaust and Social Justice, but after listening to the speakers this week and completing the class projects, I now have an unquenchable desire for my students to not only grasp but also put in action the knowledge of social justice. I am so glad I came to this workshop. It is one of the best professional development opportunities I have ever experienced in my professional life! Thank you so much!!!