Leaders of Dialogue Conference, Bialobrzegi, Poland – May 26, 2017

by George J Elbaum

This post is rather unique for my website because it’s the only one about an event where I didn’t talk but only listened, and I was so impressed by what I learned that I decided to post it.  My wife Mimi and I had just arrived in Warsaw to speak at several schools as arranged by the Forum for Dialogue, and they invited us to the opening dinner of the 5th National Leaders of Dialogue Conference which the Forum organized.  The Leaders of Dialogue was formed by the Forum to connect local activists from across Poland who have been involved in preserving the heritage of Jewish communities that existed in their towns and were annihilated in the Holocaust.  These volunteer activists are Polish, not Jewish, and most of them were unaware of each other, so they welcomed the formation of the Leaders of the Forum and its annual reunion – it made them feel no longer alone in their activism!  I found this very inspiring and accepted the invitation.

The conference’s keynote speaker this year was Marc Skvirsky, an early member of Facing History and Ourselves and now Vice President, and his talk was about Facing History’s activism and educational philosophy.  Marc is from Facing History’s Boston headquarters but I never met him despite my 7 years of connection with Facing History, so I welcomed this opportunity and was very pleased with the personal connection.

A short while before the conference the Forum translated and published my book, turning Neither Yesterdays Nor Tomorrows into Bez wczoraj, bez jutra. The task was led by Jakub Petelewicz and the book’s translator is Anna Brzostowska. The result was excellent, and a copy of the Polish book was given to each of the conference’s 60 attendees, with some after-dinner autographing as usual.  Thank you, Jakub and Anna.

The week-end event was held in Bialobrzegi on Zegrze Lake, an hour’s drive from Warsaw, and immediately prior to the dinner & conference we witnessed a beautiful sunset across the water, which Mimi photographed.

Andrzej Folwarczny, President of the Forum for Dialogue, opens the conference

conference keynote speaker Marc Skvirsky, VP of Facing History

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Downtown Charter Academy, Oakland, CA – May 15, 2017

by George J Elbaum

Downtown Charter Academy (DCA) is a public charter school with 248 students in grades 6 to 8.  Student population is 80% Asian, 15% Hispanic, and 2% each Black and White.

Per its website, “DCA is committed to excellence and academics, demonstrated through its emphasis on structure and student achievement for traditionally underserved urban students. This is accomplished by:

  • Improving the academic achievement of all students
  • Closing the achievement gap of educationally-disadvantaged students
  • Focusing on student attendance
  • Supporting effective educators
  • Providing a structured learning environment
  • Fostering a culture based on honoring hard work”

The proof that this formula works is shown by the students’ academic test scores.  Despite student demographics of 84% low income and 36% Math and 18% English disabilities, GreatSchools.org shows their test scores vs. state averages as:

  • English 75% vs. 48%
  • Math 85% vs. 37%
  • Science 76% vs. 61%

Very, very impressive.

DCA teacher Gabriel Johnson organized the event for the 75 students of his 8th grade class, while Jack Weinstein of Facing History and Ourselves arranged it and made the introduction.

Two aspects of this particular presentation stand out in my mind.  First, during the Q&A in the 100+ talks I’ve given to date I’m usually asked to explain my book’s title, Neither Yesterdays Nor Tomorrows.   In this case, and for the first time ever, a student (8th grader!) suggested her understanding of the title—that it must be a life philosophy to live in the moment when the past is painful and the future is uncertain…. and she was right!

Next, in response to a question about how my mother succeeded in getting us out of the ghetto, the specifics of which I do not know, Jack Weinstein was able to provide historical context about the role of children in the smuggling of food and other items and the role of adults involved in “black market” smuggling of both goods and people—so that perhaps my mother’s sources were connected to one or the other of these categories of smugglers. He told the students that children of their own age were sometimes able to exit and re-enter the ghetto through small openings under the Ghetto’s walls to retrieve food scraps and bring these back into the Ghetto where people were starving. This was a high risk activity, and children who engaged in smuggling were in great danger. People involved in the illicit activities of the black market were also taking high risks, sometimes for altruistic reasons, and sometimes for personal gain. The moral questions raised by this information, including the “gray areas” about right and wrong, can add an important element to my story. The combination of personal and general history can motivate young people to learn from different perspectives and to honor the complexity of both the personal stories and the larger history.

Jack Weinstein’s introduction

my talk

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Lighthouse Community Charter High School, Oakland, CA – May 12, 2017

by George J Elbaum

Lighthouse Community Charter High School, founded in 2002, is a public charter school in East Oakland and serves 750 students in grades K-12, with 214 students in grades 9-12.  The school is located in a light industrial park near the Oakland airport.  Because of its high population of low-income students of color (83% Hispanic, 9% Black, 3% Asian, 2% White) and 80% participating in the free or reduced-price lunch program, the school’s test scores are rated by Great Schools Ratings in “Test scores for low income students” and receive a 9-out-of-10.  These are compared to state averages as follows: English Proficiency — 81% vs. 44%; Math Proficiency — 48% vs. 33%; Graduation Rate for low-income students — 82% vs. 79%; and graduates completing the necessary requirements to be eligible for UC/CSU — 98% vs. 42%.  Furthermore,  95% of Lighthouse graduates, almost all of whom are first-generation in their families to attend college, are accepted into four-year colleges.  Lighthouse was named the Hart Vision California Charter School of the Year in 2013, and the #1 Bay Area high school for closing the achievement gap for low-income Latino students in 2016 by Innovate Public Schools.   All very impressive!

I first visited Lighthouse on March 21, 2016 and it was a memorable experience for me.  For the previous 6 years of giving talks in schools, all questions during the Q&A dealt with the subject of my talks: my Holocaust childhood and adulthood.  Yet the first question asked by a Lighthouse student on March 21, 2016 (early in the US Presidential campaign) was whether the campaign of Donald Trump had similarities to that of Hitler’s in the 1930s.  I was amazed and impressed that current US politics were of such impact and concern to a high school student as to reach back 80+ years into a shameful period of European history and ask me for a comparison.  Since that visit, I’ve spoken in 40 other schools and the question of the Trump-Hitler comparison has been asked more and more often, including today again at Lighthouse.  However, for me it started at Lighthouse a year ago.

Teacher Catherine Cole organized my presentation for her 11th grade students who have been studying the Holocaust by reading Elie Wiesel’s Night and doing term projects on resistance during the Holocaust, including case studies such as the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, the White Rose, Martha and Waitstill Sharp, the Edelweiss Pirates and Bishop Clemens von Galen.  In attendance also were Lighthouse teachers Sherman Moore, Charles Wagner, and Zachary Harrington.

Sarah Altschul of Facing History and Ourselves arranged today’s presentation and made the introduction.  She was accompanied by a new Facing History colleague, Hadiya McCullough.

Letters from students

A couple of weeks after my visit to Lighthouse a pack of notes/cards arrived in my mailbox, all made by the students with fanciful drawings, cut-outs, etc. (see photo below).  However, we had just left for Poland where a series of talks had been arranged for me in 7 schools, and where my book had just been translated & published in Polish.  After returning home, still jet-lagged, my wife Mimi & I read all of them, excerpted those sentences or phrases which really resonated with us because of their sensitivity or empathy, and the results are below.

  • I like that you said “always be for something, not against something.
  • Live the moment. Not the past.
  • The part that stuck with me the most is when you said: “Don’t let anyone discourage you, and keep an open mind.” This one quote especially stuck with me because it has motivated me to follow my dreams and continue to pursue them no matter what anyone else says to me.
  • Thank you for showing me the real sacrifice you and your mother had to go through to survive. This made me appreciate my family and be grateful to have what I have.
  • Your words “Then I realized my story has value” was really powerful. I thought how everyone’s story has value and that life discourages many of us to never get a chance to share them.
  • I hope someday I will be able to tell my story. I am a survivor too like you.  I come from a town in Mexico where many families like mine had to move from town to town to cities to be safe and stay alive.  I lost many family members, like you.  I’m able to connect with you in some parts of your life.  In Mexico I had to change my name too until I came to the U.S.  I started a new life, I learned a new language, a new culture.  I learned so much from you on Friday.
  • Your words “Don’t let anyone discourage you” inspire me & motivate me to work hard.
  • The question about Hitler’s campaign compared to today’s political climate was refreshing because we are not only the events of our past but also the actions and thoughts of today.
  • LUCK is all you need when nothing else works!
  • The thing that I will always remember is the sugar cube scene. It was such a strong scene for me because that sugar cube was the first real taste of freedom.  It actually left a good taste in my mouth.
  • Your story has taught me more than the books have ever taught me about the Holocaust.
  • Thank you for motivating me to push through school to be someone.
  • Thank you for not only sharing your story but also that of your mother, whose strength and wits remind me of my own mother, which made me connect with you that much more.
  • I can connect to your story when you said that your mom worked with fake ID and papers because my family did the same.
  • The ultimate personal question of what type of person I want to be in this world, an upstander, bystander or perpetrator, is something I think about every day.
  • Your story really made me think about my hardships and how they’ve made me the young woman I am today. I’ve spent the majority of my life trying to forget the past, but your story and reflection of your past has made me want to accept my past.
  • I’d like to start opening up more about the events I’ve lived through so the people around me can get to know me better and so I can get to living without any unwanted baggage.
  • You and your wife make a beautiful couple, and the small part of your relationship that I saw is so beautiful. I admire that so much, and I hope to have that type of support from my future soulmate😊

introduction by Facing History’s Sarah Altschul

with the audience

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Washington High School, Fremont, CA – April 27, 2017

by George J Elbaum

Washington High School (WHS) is a public school with an enrollment of approximately 2000 students of diverse backgrounds.  Together with Jack Weinstein of Facing History & Ourselves, I first visited Washington High School in March 2011 and spoke to a humanities class of 11th and 12th graders entitled “Literature, Justice, and Society.”  That course, which was developed by a cohort from the school after they had attended a Facing History seminar more than a decade ago, is still taught at WHS and focuses on genocide, human rights, and contemporary issues.  Literature is the entry point for discussions about difficult historical and contemporary topics.  In addition, social studies and general English courses include specific units of instruction on the Holocaust and many other topics meant to promote historical awareness, responsible decision-making, and upstander behavior.

As I had experienced in 2011, the current WHS students also demonstrated clear understanding of the basic historical narrative of the Holocaust and sincere respect for the process of meeting a survivor.  Jack started our session with an introduction about their responsibility to become “witnesses-once-removed” by virtue of having interacted with a witness to history.  It would be theirs to carry forward the messages and lessons of a survivor to the next generation.  After Jack’s introduction, I gave my presentation followed by Q&A, and again the sophistication and depth of the students’ questions and interest reflected the quality of their preparation.  In fact, the questions continued till eventually the students and I left the auditorium to finish outside and take a group photo.  It is always a pleasure to see the results good teachers produce in their students.

Social studies and English classes currently engaged in the study of the Holocaust and of Holocaust literature participated in the current event.  Assistant Principals Nathania Chaney-Aiello, Erica Donahue, and Jeff Speckels coordinated the session.  Principal Bob Moran had previously arranged for English and social studies teachers to meet with Jack Weinstein for professional development sessions on integrating new Facing History resources on the theme of Holocaust and Human Behavior in their respective courses.  All the students in attendance had completed a multi-week unit of instruction on the topic, and most had read Elie Wiesel’s memoir, Night, or Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel, Maus.

Afterwards I learned from Jack Weinstein that my talk led to writing assignments for the students, including reflective essays, letters, and messages from WHS students in response to my session. The writing project was coordinated by teacher Monica Sullivan, who also helped to organize both the session and the professional development workshops that preceded the event.

Letters from students

A couple of weeks after my visit to WHS I received a thick packet with 125(!) letters from students.  With so many letters, my wife Mimi & I needed several after-dinner readings before we read all of them and, with each letter, excerpting those sentences or phrases which really resonated with us, either because of their sensitivity or empathy or beautiful phrasing.  The results are below.

  • You seem to me as a man who has completely overcome the trials dealt to him. You don’t seek revenge, you don’t spread hate, you exude honor and kindness.  You are an inspiration to me.  I hope that someday I can come to a place where I no longer feel such terrible anger at my past and the person who wronged me.  You have set a perfect example.
  • You made the Holocaust and all its outcomes come to life for me personally, and the audience as a whole.
  • Your story helped me bring myself to how it could’ve felt during these times. Instead of facts, I was learning and understanding the Holocaust in an emotional and psychological way, something I would not have without your story.
  • Your story deeply touched me and changed me as a person. You have left a beautiful mark on me.
  • Your stories about courage and pride of who you are in the face of fear have inspired me to be courageous when I experience sentiments of hatred toward my middle Eastern Heritage or Islamic beliefs.
  • Thank you. You have helped me in ways I am unable to describe in words.
  • Recently a friend of mine was being bullied. Your wise words got me thinking that if I would have stood up for her then I would have made a positive influence on my world and would have made her life better.
  • I better understand that this could happen to anyone, and that it could happen again.
  • After hearing you speak, I feel that I need to cherish life every day because the same thing can happen at any time.
  • I hope that you continue to talk to different schools for a very long time because your story gives us a lesson that no textbook or documentary ever could.
  • I feel as though I am a bit more prepared to face the discrimination that goes on in the world, and I have your eyewitness account to thank for that.
  • You made my day so much better and I’m proud to be able to retell your stories. Each story I have learned from you I have taken to heart.
  • After hearing you speak, I feel though I can be open to other people’s ideas, and be kind to people, because, after all, we are on earth with other humans, and might as well be as kind and welcoming as possible.
  • After hearing you speak I can better understand how lucky I am to be born when I was and where.
  • Future generations may lose clarity but will always share sympathy.
  • I will forever cherish your story and hope to tell it to my children one day.
  • You didn’t just show us a time in history but also the emotion behind it.
  • You are a different voice that people need to hear. You showed me that you can live a normal life and be successful even after hard times.
  • It’s good to see that you are relatively the same as any other person just living life.
  • It’s stories like yours that remind us to be human, the most important part of learning history so that it doesn’t repeat itself.
  • It was quite interesting to hear of your chances of luck, as if fate itself had decided you had to live to tell the tale to us.
  • I felt as if I could see just a faint outline of what it was like to live in hiding, to run, to survive in a world that hated you.
  • I had several near-death experiences when I was growing up, and like you, luck was there to save me. For example, I was rock climbing and I lost grip on a rock and fell, but luckily there was a thick root sticking out from a tree on top and my foot tangled around it and saved me from falling six stories high while hanging upside down.
  • After hearing you speak about your mother and grandmother, I felt way more respect and pride in my heart for my parents because if it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be in America, studying and writing this letter to you.
  • The story you told us was really sad – it made me cry a little.
  • My teacher gave us only 10 minutes to write so I have to go, but thank you so much for coming and I am so sorry for what happened to you.
  • After hearing you speak I feel as though I can help try to prevent bullying situations that can happen at school due to race, ethnicity, or even their backgrounds.
  • You said something that I have not stopped thinking about since: stand with things, not against things.
  • Your advice on facing hatred in the world today was very interesting, and I will keep it in mind the next time I come across a situation.
  • I wanted to let you know that I really appreciated the way you told your story and I feel more need to stand up to hatred.
  • I was in tears for most of your story. Your words that hatred is taught is meaningful because it’s really the truth!
  • I feel as if things in life that I thought are bad aren’t even close to being as bad as you had, so now I see that I need to be grateful for the little things and not be a brat when I don’t get my way. So thank you.
  • This experience will help me be even more open minded, and help me to remember that acceptance is super important.
  • I truly consider myself lucky for the fact that I got to hear you today. I only wish that you spoke for a longer time so that I could have skipped the boring school classes. 😊
  • I now better understand the impact that this atrocity had on individuals rather than on a country as a whole.
  • Your speaking helped me realize that not only is it okay to speak about personal issues but to also embrace your past.
  • I believe this moment to be one of the most important memories I will have.
  • Your story of surviving the Holocaust as a child has me more thankful for what I have, even if it’s not much.
  • Your story has motivated me to make the relationship with my family better, and to be thankful for what I have everyday.
  • I will not forget that I got to hear a Holocaust survivor’s testimony in person. Thank you very much for doing this, and I am more than eternally grateful.
  • The question you asked us (to answer only to ourselves) had a big impact on me. It made me think if I’d be willing to take a risk to save a four-year-old boy.  Thank you for helping me understand myself.

starting the talk

starting well-organized Q&A

final questions outside the auditorium

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Notre Dame High School, San Jose, CA – April 26, 2017

by George J Elbaum

Notre Dame High School is an all-girls, Catholic, college preparatory school with an enrollment of 630 students.  Since its founding in 1851, it has been the premier educator of young women of Silicon Valley based on its motto: “Teach them what they need to know for life.”  As such, its focus is on high quality academics, leadership, global citizenship and socially-responsible entrepreneurship.  The student body reflects Silicon Valley’s ethnic and socioeconomic diversity, so that half of the 2016 class comes from homes in which a language other than English is spoken and one quarter of the student body receives financial assistance.

Notre Dame students complete a range of community service activities in their four years, as this teaches them to be “socially responsible and answer the call to be a person of justice” and to try making a difference in the San Jose community.  By their senior year, students design and execute their own Senior Service Learning Project.

Notre Dame’s focus on global citizenship and individual responsibility has been supported by its involvement with Facing History and Ourselves for more than 10 years, starting with a pilot program integrating sophomore history with English.  Facing History units on human rights, genocide studies, racism, art as social protest, and oral history eventually became part of every humanities and science class offered.  There is a FH Student Leadership Group that works within the school and alongside other schools’ parallel groups to effect social change and model participatory citizenship.  Notre Dame students have met and learned from many Facing History resource speakers, including scholars, authors, witnesses to history, survivors of genocides, and upstanders who have made a difference in their communities.

All humanities teachers (English, Social Studies, and Religious Studies) have participated in seminars, workshops, and trainings provided to the school by Facing History–and all staff members have exposure to key themes in annual workshops as well, because Notre Dame is among the 75 schools across the country who are in a partnership through Facing History’s Innovative Schools Network (ISN).

This talk at Notre Dame was organized by Religious Studies teacher Rita Cortez.  I first met Rita when she participated in the educators’ workshop organized by Jack Weinstein of Facing History on January 20, 2016 in Palo Alto, and she invited me to speak at Notre Dame to approximately 160 10th grade World History students on April 20, 2016.  Today was therefore my second visit to Notre Dame, starting with a welcoming pre-presentation lunch and chat with teachers and students, then the presentation and Q&A.  A wonderful atmosphere!  Other Notre Dame humanities teachers in attendance were John Mischke, Nickie Pfaff, and Hilary Orr.

Two weeks after my talk I received a pack of notes from the students, written on lovely, fancifully decorated paper, with the little drawings like an apple tree with a fallen apple added to sweeten the notes (see photo below).  The students’ words were very heartfelt, and the gem that I will always treasure is: “You have motivated me to work to a better future!”

before the talk

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Seattle World School, Seattle, WA – April 24, 2017 (PM)

by George J Elbaum

Seattle World School (SWS) is Seattle Public Schools’ culturally and linguistically diverse high school for newcomer secondary students.  It is one of only a few schools in the country designed as a preliminary entry point for immigrant children in their quest for academic achievement and full participation in American society.  SWS students thus have limited language skills (intermediate ELL level) and most have been in the U.S. for 2 years or less.

Since its students and their families have special needs, SWS has a specialized on-site health center, enrollment center, and family support center. Families are supported to participate in their student’s education and reinforce their academic success. All students have access to extended day academic programs and tutoring six days a week. Volunteers from all over Seattle make these programs possible. Community agencies also work as partners with the school, providing academic support and bolstering the school’s emphasis on multicultural awareness and respect.

Holly Cotton, SWS Language Arts teacher, organized my presentation to her 30 students.  The students’ limited English became apparent when, part way into my talk, I started reading a page from my book, so Holly asked them if seeing my text on the screen would help them follow my reading.  She was prepared for their resounding “Yes!” as she had an overhead projector prepared, anticipating this difficulty.  With me reading and Holly marking my place on the page as seen on the screen, we successfully continued reading and eventually concluded the talk.

Arrangements for my visit to SWS were made by Julie Thompson, Education Associate, Holocaust Center for Humanity.

starting my talk

front row: Thipphaphone, Arecely, Sara and Kimberly – back row: Anika, Nikita, Kevin, Patrick, me, Tin, Holly Cotton, Huong, Donna and Aglae

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Islander Middle School, Mercer Island, WA – April 24, 2017 (AM)

by George J Elbaum

Islander Middle School (IMS) is the only public middle school (grades 6 thru 8) on Mercer Island.  Its enrollment is approximately 1100 students with 28% minority.  IMS utilizes district-adopted curriculum as the foundation for its core classes as well as offering a variety of engaging learning electives, and it clearly succeeds in this task as it’s ranked an impressive 10th of 441 Washington middle schools.  The school’s mission statement, “We strive to ensure a challenging, relevant and engaging experience where every student is able to advance to a greater level of understanding, ability and performance,” clearly extends beyond only academics, as it prepares its students to “thrive in today’s cognitive, digital, and global world while sustaining their passion and inspiration for learning.”

In addition to academics, IMS has a strong social and societal focus, presenting and promoting subjects such as race and equality, civil rights, and other current issues of our society.  The monthly Principal’s Message on its website also includes down-to-earth advice for students, such as use and misuse of social media, and a monthly Character Trait Dare, such as honesty, forgiveness, etc, with specific suggestions for students to test themselves on that trait.

As part of the school’s societal focus I was invited to speak about my Holocaust childhood to the entire 8th grade class (approx. 350 students).  The event was organized by Language Arts teacher Joseph Gushanas and introduced to the audience by Co-Principal Mary Jo Budzuis.  After finishing my talk I was approached by Charlene Steinhauer, a parent of one of the students, thanking and urging me to continue spreading the message.  Many friends and acquaintances have urged me to do the same, referring primarily to today’s political climate.

As such a large audience prevents a truly effective question & answer session, it was held immediately after the talk for several classes (approx. 80-100 students) in another room (see photos below).  Then teacher Gushanas invited me to hold a 2nd Q&A session with his class of 2 dozen students, a more intimate venue (see photo) which resulted in more questions than the much larger previous group.

My presentation at IMS was arranged by Julia Thompson, Education Associate, Holocaust Center for Humanity.

Student letters and notes and cards and…and…and 🙂 

A few weeks after my talk at IMS I received in the mail a thick packet with a clear window showing that it contained papers of many sizes and colors.  Medical issues kept me from opening it for a week or two, but when I did open it I was amazed by the diversity of its contents: some typed letters on standard paper, some folded into customized notes, some small notes with artistically cut or torn edges on white or colored stock, some with very imaginative designs or ornate lettering, some multi-page arrangements of text with hand-drawn art or “feel-free-to-draw-on” instructions, lots of hearts, one card with multi-color paper clips glued to its outside (per the “Paper Clips” documentary which inspired me to write my book) and inside a folded “sugar cube” as given to me by a Soviet officer in 1945, some done individually or in groups of two or three, some containing confetti glued on the outside or plastic-encased inside, or a heart that pops out on opening, or a creative map/flag of Poland, or a collage of text and Star of David, or a heartfelt poem (below), or a multi-fold paper arrangement, or even an origami bird – all home-made and all saying “Thank You”.  What an imaginative and wonderful present!

In addition to the descriptions above, some of the touching messages and the poem are below.

  • I’m so grateful that we have people like you to educate us about the Holocaust. I hope you keep doing what you’re doing, because I know if it touched me it touched others, too.  Thank you.
  • It was so inspirational to hear your story during the Holocaust. We all can listen to documentaries and videos but we’ll never know what it was like in person.  It takes a lot of courage to tell your story.
  • My favorite story of yours is the one about the sugar cube. It made me cry because it was so heartwarming.
  • I’m so thankful that you came to talk to our school. It is a memory that I will never forget.
  • The way you presented and told your story will forever change my perspective on life.
  • You shared memories that came from pain, loss and luck.
  • I learned so many new facts and the heavy impacts it had on your life. You were funny, kept us entertained while still telling us about a hard, rough time.
  • I really found it amazing yet awful, all the hell you went through.
  • I can’t believe how long you were without your family. I wouldn’t be able to be without my family for that long.  If I had to do that I would be so scared.
  • It’s nice to hear a person’s experience from themselves instead of a movie or a book. It makes you feel like you’re experiencing what the person has.  You can relate to one of their experiences.
  • I appreciate your courage for standing up in front of a big crowd talking about a difficult topic.
  • I also have problems speaking in front of crowds.
  • I appreciate that you don’t blame all Germans for what you went through, just the Nazis. Thank you!
  • It was such a great experience for me to learn more on this subject – I was interested the entire time! Thank you once again and I hope you continue giving talks and being awesome!!
  • The poem
  • I hear your story
  • How you felt
  • How you told people how you dealt
  • Someone speaking for the ghetto
  • Someone speaking for the dead
  • You saw it with your eyes and the words came out of your mouth
  • How you smiled and survived when everything went South
  • People say it never happened
  • Which I wish were true
  • But it was real and you faced it
  • What I never knew
  • I will never understand
  • What happened in the war
  • But what you did and what you said
  • Shook us to our core.

Thank you, Islander Middle School!

with the whole audience

with first Q&A group

with teacher Joseph Gushanas and second Q&A group, his 4th period Language Arts class

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