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Unsent Letters

Slavka Borislavova and Boryana Angelova, Levski

 

This project was developed by Slavka Borislavova and Boryana Angelova in Levski. The project involved 2nd and 3rd grade students and well as 6th grade students.

 

For the 6th graders the project started with the historic background of the 1941-1945 period and Hitler’s beliefs in racial “purity” to introduce the topic of the Holocaust, followed by the use the Circles of Identity, a very emotional activity. The next activity was to organize movie viewings at school. “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” was the film chosen for 6th graders and “The Prince of Egypt,” a Bible story about slavery, for 2nd graders. What the children could not understand was why people who actually looked like us were considered different enough to be chased and murdered. Then they heard Assia Raberman’s story and her life full of maybes. Many questions were asked, photos of ghettos were shown, as well as photos from our seminar in Blagoevgrad, showing the real Assia Raberman. For students it was a miracle that their teachers met a Holocaust survivor. They wanted to know everything we had learned from Mrs. Raberman. There was a glimpse of the past, recalling our participation in the Butterflies project for two years in a row. The kids remembered their painted butterflies, each for a missing Jewish child.

 

Along with all the activities, 6th graders were reading The Diary of Anne Frank and were getting ready for discussing it. They did Internet research on missing children, their photos and stories. All the names and photographs were presented as a PowerPoint Presentation to the 2nd graders, who then proceeded to write letters to the missing children and read them to the students of 6th grade, their parents, teachers and other guests.

During the project, 6th graders, in their citizenship classes, talked a lot about children’s rights, and how and why they were denied to the Jewish children. We held a Tolerance Day about the destructive power of the words we use in our daily language and why it is dangerous to label people, how words we use as jokes to tease the others can be hurtful. We talked about prejudices and stereotypes in our society. These discussions naturally led to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Listing rights one by one clarified the idea how Jewish children lived during the Holocaust without their rights to childhood and life. We used an interactive game I have the right to… and the responsibility to… to teach children about rights and responsibilities.

 

The project “Unsent Letters” gave hope to children and teachers for a better and peaceful world. We hope that through this project, inspired by the seminar Learning from the Past – Acting for the Future, we helped students become more caring, tolerant, thoughtful and respecting towards each other.

 

This is the website of the project, which also displays photos of students during the activities: http://neizprateni-pisma.webnode.com/

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)