Update: View videos of the presentation, as well as thank you letters from East-West students at Youth Voices.
"Your struggle has taught me that no matter how hard it gets you can survive and become a better person. Thank you so much for sending your book to our school and then visiting us."
|12th grade students gather to hear Rosa speak. From Rosa Strygler
Background information from Ms. Park:
Rosa Strygler is a holocaust survivor. She has written a book, Rosa, which tells the story of her growing up in Poland and being sent to Auschwitz in her early teens. She interweaves the story with her memories, as a mother living in New York in the early 70s, of having a son fall into heavy drug use and mental illness. It's a moving story, but an uplifting one in the sense of her strength as a survivor and someone who has given back to the community by volunteering at Rikers Island with young prisoners and helping to counsel them. She donated her books for the 12th graders to read and discuss when she arrived. All assignments were given through the Senior English classes.
Rosa currently lives in New York City with her husband and an adopted daughter from China.
Read more about Rosa on her profile at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, which she greatly supports.
Rosa invited the students to ask her any question they wanted. She responded frankly as students grappled with the enormity of her life experiences. It was a valuable opportunity to learn about someone who lived through incredible hardship.
Above all, Rosa wanted to make sure that young people never forgot that the Holocaust happened so that it would never happen again.
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Kwaku Oware-Addai, a 12th grade ELA student and recent first place winner of the G2G contest, wrote a poem to reflect on what he learned about the Holocaust. Continue reading for the full poem.
What is the holocaust?
Did it even exist?
Many people just call it a myth
6 million dead by one man’s hand
Surely countries took a stand
6 million that is just crazy
Killing the old, the young and even babies?
This can’t be true who would allow this to happen
6 million is as big as Manhattan
The holocaust is not a type of fiction
All those souls lost is not a prediction
They were taken from home and placed in camps
Telling the people they don’t have a chance.
Taking their name and given a number
Forced to sleep while outside thunders
Forced to work without pay
Some did not make it by the end of the day
Treated like animals and put in a cage
People waited for them to rot and decay
Death was around and invoked fears
Causing people to believe the end was near
But through the day and through the night
There were those who would put up a fight
Having hope allowed them to strive
Which led many to survive
Through the day and through the night
Jews fought a perilous fight
Facing death with light from hope
They no longer began to mope
Some were able to leave the camp alive
Walk out in the open while maintaining their pride
The holocaust was an event that should not have happened
Ignorance made men hate with passion
Lives were lost because of this action
The lesson of the story as you can see
Is don’t ever repeat history.