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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Writing Contest Entries -- Inspiring

As we get closer to the finish line of our writing contest, we are now down to 35 semi-finalists for lower (8th - 9th grades) and upper (10th-12th grades). The quality of the writing is amazing.

I wanted to pull some quotes to share from the lower finalists (upper finalists by Friday)...

"Before I knew about the partisans, I thought that only people of importance could make a difference, that a person like me is invisible to the world. But the partisans experience made me aware of the influence young people can have."
-8th grader, Indiana

"The partisans must never be caught!" The women hurry form the scene and I run with them, marveling at their strength, their audacity, how such young women could stand up to tyranny and prejudice with no second thoughts.
9th grader, New York

"The thought of fighting for what you believe in, no matter what the consequences, is hard to understand. It makes me wonder if such a decision was to be made by me, what I would do. I always think I would stand by my beliefs, but you can never be sure until it happens. If death could be a consequence, would I do it? Would I stand up for the rights of myself and others, or stand down and only hope that others will do it for me?"
-8th grader, Tennessee

"I pledge to do my part to make a difference in our world."
8th grader, Kansas

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bielski Partisan with Clothing from Forest

Sheila Garberman was with the Bielski partisans when she was 12 years old. I met her when I was partipating in a video conference with over 100 high school students in Southern New Jersey. Here is a photo of Mrs. Garberman with the blouse that she has had for over 65 years -- made from a piece of a Russian parachute in the forest by a fellow partisan. She was an orphan at the time -- her family killed by the Germans and their collaborators. Mrs. Garberman brings this incredible artifact to the scores of classes she speaks to in her community and it was an honor to share the morning with her.

During the same presentation with the students, only one out of 100 ever heard of the Jewish partisans before our program (this is normal for most schools, and we strive to change this through our work). We sent the school copies of "Defiance" on DVD for them to review before our video conference call along with our teacher materials. The conversation with the students was fascinating, but most of all, I was touched the the elegance and grace of by Mrs. Garberman and the story of her blouse.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Greetings from Dayton!

Mitch Braff, Executive Director, just led a fantastic workshop last night where the feedback was some of the best we have ever had. Firstly, 100% of the educators will use the material and 100% would recommend the class and materials. Here are two quotes from educators that sought me out after the class to share their enthusiasm:
"I thought it was the best workshop I have ever been to."
"Our table did not want to leave. We said, "No, the four hours can't possibly be up already!"
We have four new trainers for our 'Teaching with Defiance" trainings, and will be teaching later this month in Portland, Maine with one of our new trainers. This will make five TWD workshops in a thirty day period -- a record for us.