by George J Elbaum
This was my 3rd visit to American High School (AHS), which has an enrollment of 2200 students and, in addition to the usual common core academic program, it has a Sophomore Global Studies program run by teachers Wali Noori and John Creger, which includes the Personal Creed Project. In the Creed, students are asked to reflect on their main influences, their own values, the qualities they wish to develop in themselves to help their own lives, and the difference they want to make in the lives of others or the world. This not only gives students an opportunity to share their own stories in the classroom but it also includes an extensive curricular exploration of the Holocaust and through it, a focus on others.
As the culmination of the Holocaust unit of instruction, Wali Noori and John Creger organized my presentation as an opportunity for the 100+ students from their classes to hear my personal story. As an introduction, Jack Weinstein of Facing History & Ourselves (who arranged this talk and had previously guided AHS teachers about the content of this instruction unit) spoke to the students about the importance of learning about the Holocaust directly from the few remaining survivors, and for the students to pass it onward someday when no survivors remain. My talk resulted in a great Q&A session with many thoughtful and penetrating questions from the students. In attendance were also AHS teachers Anna Misra, Nathaniel Broguiere, Tai Bambusa and some of their students.
Great pleasure to have you with us last week, George. As you say, “Humanity changes only at the speed of evolution.” How better to speed our journey toward a better future than to help young people understand our past and find themselves in the present? Looking forward to connecting this summer!
Thank you, John. Shall we have Rumi (in some form) join us this summer?
Some believe Rumi has a presence we can perceive even today. I’ll certainly bring some poems we might enjoy visiting with. Early in NIGHT, Eli Wiesel is very much drawn to Jewish mysticism. Rumi mingles well with anyone with even the smallest pinch of mystical curiosity. I’m looking forward to our gathering!