By Joey Bergida
Cold Spring Harbor High School, New York
To some, the Holocaust might be just an issue of the past, but genocide and prejudice still continue to haunt the world. In response to this threat, in January of 1992, a project of the I*EARN network called the Holocaust/Genocide Project (HGP) began. Since then, the project has grown to be one of the most active projects in the network.
The goals of the project are to promote respect for human rights and to make people more aware of the dangerous consequences that can stem from racial and religious prejudice. Hopefully, the individuals who are involved will be able to take the knowledge and the understanding they acquire and use it to educate themselves and society.
The HGP enables students to use telecommunications to share information on an international level about history, literature, art, and, most importantly, emotional responses concerning genocide. Students have the opportunity to discuss the Holocaust of WW II and learn about the murder of eleven million people. Surprisingly, many people do not know about the Holocaust, according to a recent Associated Press article -- and that is one thing we want to change.
During the time of the Holocaust, much of the world stayed silent as Hitler and his Nazis destroyed the lives and heritage of so many. The Holocaust occurred because of this silence as well as the prejudice and racial/religious hatred of others. Today issues of intolerance are still seen around the world, but now people are not always silent.
Schools from Washington State, Israel, Australia, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Russia, Poland and New York are working together to study genocide. In the words of Peter Copen, President of the Copen Family Fund, the HGP's goal is "to produce a clearer understanding of the facts, a deeper understanding of one's own and other's feelings, and shifts in attitudes about what one person can do to make a difference."
The Holocaust/Genocide Project has a curriculum written up for students and teachers. They can look at the <iearn.hp> conference and determine how to incorporate part or all of the project into the educational process at schools. In this respect, the project serves as a classroom tool for teachers to utilize in educating their students about the Holocaust.
1994 Staff Members (left to right): Jen Harris, Shreema Sanghvi, Honey Kern, Nicolle Austin, Kevin Johnson, Claudia Gilder, Joey Bergida, Sage Newman, Adam Contini, Adam Blocksidge, Richard Estrin, Paul Magyar, Chris Cook, Heather Bentley, and Lindsay Pindyck.
Besides curriculum, other topics in our teleconference focus on history, music, bibliographies, computer software, student to student comments, current events, and many other subjects pertaining to genocide and the Holocaust. Nearly every day new information, responses to existing topics, and pieces of creative writing are added to the already tremendous wealth of material in the conference.
The outstanding success of the HGP was made evident this year when teachers Honey Kern, Julie Rosenoff, and Nili Eldar were jointly given the I*EARN Teacher of the Year Award. It is very true that both the students and teachers alike in the HGP are dedicated to making a difference and proving to the world that racism and prejudice no longer have a place in our world.
One tangible result of the project is the newsletter that was published in 1993 -- An End to Ignorance. This year that newsletter has grown into this magazine and the title has been changed to An End to Intolerance. The newsletter is part of the Resource Center of the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, and, hopefully, our magazine will also become part of the museum's collection.
Another educational and interesting aspect of the HGP is that it provides its members with an opportunity for a Holocaust educational study trip. For the past two years, students, teachers, and parents from the U.S. traveled to Poland and Israel. Once in Poland, the American group met with individuals from Israel who were involved in the project. Gideon Goldstein, I*EARN social science coordinator and HGP mentor, traveled with our group of approximately fifty throughout Poland and Israel.
Since it is important to get the message out about the Holocaust and other issues of genocide, an art exhibit was set up at Cold Spring Harbor High School (New York) during April of 1993. It involved the students, teachers, and parents of our community, as well as artists outside our community. The outstanding effort put forth by the people involved was noticed by Holocaust survivors, community members, rabbis, priests, and everyone who visited the exhibit or heard about the work. Art, social studies, English, music, and math teachers all worked together with the students in this interdisciplinary effort, and, as a result, the exhibit affected the entire community. The positive effects of this exhibit are still being seen as we are now working on exchanging related artwork around the world.
Copyright © 1994-2005 by iEARN. All rights reserved.
Access the HGP's An End to Intolerance Web page.
Access the Holocaust/Genocide Project's Home Page.