Teaching about the Holocaust in the 21st century


Aleksandra Wilczura is the Editor in Chief of "Studia Bliskowschodnie-The Middle East Studies" Magazine, an initiative based at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow and dedicated to Middle Eastern Affairs.

I applied for an ROI GO NETWORK! Micro Grant for participation in the 9th International Conference on Holocaust Education, "Through Our Own Lens: Reflecting on the Holocaust from Generation to Generation," at the Institute of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. I did this for two reasons. First of all, I wanted to meet and network with specialists in Holocaust Studies in order to establish academic and cultural cooperation between our academic institutions.

The second reason for my participation was an opportunity to exchange interesting educational ideas, experiences and new projects. I wanted to learn new educational methods, new approaches to students in different ages and with different cultures and backgrounds who study Holocaust-related topics. I wanted to learn how other teachers educate groups of youngsters without Jewish backgrounds that come from different countries and cultures. I wanted to learn how they transfer important humanistic values and knowledge about the Holocaust to younger generations that have no connection to the Shoah, like in South America or China.

During the conference in Yad Vashem, I had a fantastic opportunity to meet great scholars and writers. I met there many interesting people - academics, teachers, formal and informal educators, writers and cultural animators from around the world. I will cooperate with some of them soon, especially with our neighbors from Heinrich Boll Stiftung Sachsen in Germany and the Czech Republic. I can’t wait for our educational project. Thanks to this conference, I also learned a lot - for instance, that specialists in Holocaust Studies are trying to reformulate the definition of the Holocaust and extend it in order to consider the Shoah in the context of genocide studies.

I also established cooperation with the Holocaust Education Resource Center at the College of Saint Elisabeth in the USA, and I have already assisted one of the groups of American scholars during their visit in Krakow in August.

During the conference we had two bomb alarms, so we had to go to shelters and stay there for a while. It was a very difficult time to study, listen to lectures and actively participate in discussions and workshops. It was also extremely stressful for all of the participants because of the cancelation of all flights. We had to stay in Jerusalem far from the Old City and Arab districts. It was a difficult time for all of us, for participants and organizers, for Israel and its citizens. But I was also happy and proud to see Israelis and their unity in such a difficult time. This conference experience gave me the strong feeling and convinced me that despite all difficulties, "Am Israel chai."

Thanks to the ROI Micro Grant and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, I had a great opportunity to develop my skills and network with other scholars. Without your support it would not be possible. Thank you for that.