Tour for Humanity finished this week at a Toronto High School, a vocational and special education school in east York. Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) Educator Elena worked with four different groups of students, all in Grades 11 and 12, presenting the Global Perspectives on Genocide workshop. It was a very successful day - Elena felt that the majority were very engaged and interested in learning about the Holocaust and other genocides of recent history.
Most students didn’t have much context for what Elena covered prior to the workshop, although knowledge about Hitler and the Nazis was a common starting point. Elena emphasized the growth of antisemitism in Europe and the concept of a “scapegoat” in times of crisis. One student really impressed Elena because he brought up the Herroro and Nama genocide that occurred in present-day Namibia under German colonial rule at the turn of the 20th century, whereas most students weren’t familiar with any of the situations we covered. Elena also talked about the fact that these kinds of crimes persist in our world today and that we should all work towards the respect of all human life. Elena showed the students the new video of Speaker’s Idol and described the origins of the contest and FSWC's desire to honour Simon Wiesenthal through students developing the ability to speak on social justice issues they are passionate about. Elena also told them that many of them have unique perspectives and have overcome challenges that a lot of young people wouldn’t be able to handle, so they would be excellent contestants!
Another highlight was at the end of the day when a group of teachers and parents came in to check out the bus and stayed for the Holocaust video and to hear a bit about the program. They were all very impressed with the facility and Elena handed out FSWC educational materials. It was a great end to our first week back to school!