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The Holocaust and Human Rights

Mariana Sima, Plopeni, Prahova

 

This project developed by Mariana Sima in Plopeni, Prahova involved 150 students from 9th, 10th and 11th grades, in ‘Gheorghe Lazar’ Technical College, as well as 30 teachers and other adults. A first meeting between representatives of the students, teachers, parents and local community took place on February 28. The responsibilities of each of them in the project and the main activities were discussed. On March 13, we organized an open lesson on the Holocaust in Romania supported by photographs of Jews and Roma taken during the Holocaust. Afterwards, the participants watched the movie Schindler’s List.

On March 15, two students from each class participated in a contest on Human rights (the rest of their classmates were the audience). Having to study The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and The Universal Declaration of Children’s Rights’ they organized in mixed teams of age and ethnic belonging to create drawings, fliers, pictures and presentations.

 

From March 20 to 24, we organized an activity called We Are Equal, which consisted of interactive counseling lessons to develop students’ critical thinking in approaching problems of social and ethnical inequity, as source of discrimination, in discussing empathy and its limits. The participants faced the situation of seeing what is like to be ‘the other’ in the society, using methods like role-play and  ‘a step forward’. An activity called Be Generous! took place: the students brought presents such as toys, notebooks, clothes and shoes to the students in need.

On April 4, Mr. Adrian Chiscop of Friedrich Ebert Foundation brought thematic panels on the challenges to democracy in the third millennium, which were exposed in our school for three weeks. We discussed current problems and threats to democracy such as the rise of far right organizations in the contemporary world.

 

The next activity was a trip to the Synagogue in Ploiesti where students admired, apart from the place of worship, the exhibits of the Jewish community and the pictures and they watched an interesting presentation on the history of the Jewish community in Ploiesti.

 

The project contributed to the development of student’ attitudes and behaviors such as respecting their peers, promoting equality, understanding and respecting cultural diversity. Some of the students’ reflections: “It was the first time I have ever entered a Synagogue… It was something very special for me!”, “It was the second year that I took part in the National Contest ‘Memory of the Holocaust’ and the activities of this project helped me to better understand the subject and to win a prize”.


Next year we will do the project again, maybe with fewer activities. The President on the local Jewish community in Ploiesti expressed her availability to facilitate the participation of the prized students to a national event on the Holocaust in Romania in Brasov County.

Contact

For more information about The Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights (TOLI), please contact info@toli.us

TOLI is located at 58 East 79th Street in Manhattan. (get directions)