Tour for Humanity spent its second day at a middle school in Gloucester today. It was another very successful day and Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) Educator Elena was able to see everyone in the school during the two-day visit. Once again we were working with students between Grades 6 and 8, all participating the Canadian Experience workshop.
The FSWC Educators' job is always much easier when the school and staff prepare students for the materials covered in the Tour for Humanity presentations - which had been done in preparation for our two-day visit - so it was a pleasure to work with so many curious students. Elena had a lot of good discussions around the Holocaust and many questions about how World War II began and what Canada's role was within the war. One student in particular asked tons of questions and was impressed when Elena told him about the role that some Canadian soldiers played in liberating Jewish prisoners from concentration camps. Elena took time with each group to demystify the swastika and sieg heil salute as well because those are symbols a lot of students are familiar with.
Another highlight of the day was a conversation around residential schools that Elena had with a group of students. One student shared that his grandpa had attended a residential school and that he was beaten there. Elena thanked the student for sharing his family history and they talked about the abuses that many students experienced in the system.
Tour for Humanity was also very lucky to have a visit from Shirley Seward, chair of the Ottawa Carleton District School Board, for our last workshop of the day. Shirley participated in our latest Compassion to Action mission last summer and we were thrilled to have her take the time to see our education programs in action. She really loved the idea of using the RV in such an innovative way and the content of the program.
FSWC's classroom was also filled today with a group of students from a Grade 10 English class from Brampton. They were taking part in a Roots of Hate and Intolerance workshop. Today’s class was extremely well-informed about the topic of the Holocaust before entering our Centre. The students were extremely respectful of the material and of the classroom space. FSWC Educator Emily opened up the floor for questions before lunch, after lunch, and after the workshop, and she was asked multiple questions at each instance. As most educators know, it is extremely difficult to teach someone to be curious, but this group of students really demonstrated a clear interest and inquisitiveness about the events and people involved in the Second World War and the Holocaust.