by George J Elbaum
The Holocaust Center for Humanity (HCH) arranged my very first two talks to students in October 2010, and has continued to arrange many more for my subsequent visits to Seattle. The Holocaust Center teaches the lessons of the Holocaust, inspiring students of all ages to confront bigotry and indifference, promote human dignity, and take action. The Center reaches 40,000 students a year in schools and communities around the Pacific Northwest with educational resources and programs, and it provides immersive learning experiences to thousands of additional students at their education center and museum in which it holds exhibitions and educational seminars. One powerful example of exhibits is last year’s exhibit Anne Frank – A History for Today, which drew audiences of up to 500 per day, while educational seminars are exemplified by presentations such as those I’ve given at HCH in past years and again today.
The Holocaust Center has also organized the Student Leadership Board (SLB) which consists of approximately two dozen middle and high school students from various high schools in the greater Seattle area. Through project-based learning, the SLB seeks to develop in its members the skills for leadership and teamwork, for creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving, while gaining a deeper understanding of the Holocaust and thus making a positive difference in their schools and in their communities. As members of the SLB the students:
- Participate in twice-monthly meetings at the Holocaust Center in downtown Seattle.
- Work in teams to plan and carry out a meaningful project that supports the Holocaust Center’s mission and provides real-world leadership experience.
- Provide feedback on the Holocaust Center’s programs and serve as ambassadors.
- Have the opportunity to hear from community leaders visiting the Holocaust Center.
- Learn more about leadership, the Holocaust, human rights, genocide, and related local issues.
- Work with the Holocaust Center’s museum and local Holocaust survivors.
- Gain valuable leadership tools and experience, and earn recognition from the Holocaust Center at the completion of a year as part of a prestigious cohort of Student Leaders.
I focused today’s talk to the Student Leadership Board members who attended it, most of them with members of their families. The talk was organized by Julia Thompson, the Holocaust Center’s Education Resource Coordinator, and I was introduced to the audience by Ilana Cone Kennedy, the Holocaust Center’s Director of Education. Photography was a team effort of Amanda Davis, the Center’s Development Associate, and Mimi Jensen, my wife😊. Attending also was Dee Simon, Baral Family Executive Director of the Holocaust Center who, together with Ilana, surprised me after the Q&A with a big birthday cake, as today was my 80th birthday.