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Connecting Students to History
recipients: Carrie McCallum, St. Helen's High School, OR
Students from Carrie McCallum’s Holocaust and Genocide Literature class at St. Helen’s High School traveled to Portland, Oregon to tour the Oregon Holocaust Memorial in Washington Park and hear Holocaust survivor Miriam Greenstein speak at the Oregon Holocaust Resource Center. Prior to the excursion and as part of the curriculum for the class, students read a book written by one of the Portland-area survivors chosen from among eight different titles. They met in small groups to discuss their reading and wrote regular journal entries, and also engaged in learning about the development of the local memorial.
On the day of the field trip, approximately 40 students and three chaperones traveled to Portland for a thorough tour of the memorial, including a site where soil from each of the death camps is buried and the wall of names of people who are not memorialized in any other place in the world, including family members lost by local survivor Miriam Greenstein and those of their docent. At the Holocaust Resource Center, which is housed in the Oregon Jewish Museum, students heard from Miriam Greenstein, who spoke of her parents, the “camp sisters” she gained, the artwork she has created as a result of her experiences, and the moment when she thought she had died and was seeing angels, who turned out to be medical personnel in the hospital after liberation. During their return to St. Helen’s, students were asked to write one final journal entry about the trip, which was to be brought to class the next day. One student wrote about something said by Mrs. Greenberg: “Some people ask me if this is therapeutic for me [to speak to audiences]. Pardon my swearing, but hell no! When I do this, I feel as if my insides are being torn out of me. I do this because I love this country and I love these people.” In response, the student wrote, “This really showed me what an honor it was to be there [ to hear Miriam speak] and how selfless of an act that was. She has overcome so much and yet she still endures this pain because she has hope for the future.”