Today Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center's (FSWC) Education Department kicked off the workshop year with a visit from 25 energetic Grade 7 students from a local public school for a Leadership 101 workshop.
Students had quite a bit of knowledge about Simon Wiesenthal and his background and right away knew about him being a Nazi hunter. When FSWC Educator Daniella showed the group Simon’s desk, they were very impressed and she spotted several students flipping through the book of Nazi criminals.
In the later part of the workshop, Daniella discussed the concept of diversity and feeling different from other people. Daniella asked for volunteers to share their experiences with diversity and one girl shared a very sad story. A few years ago she was new to a dance class, and it turned out that many of the other girls in the class were Christian. She herself is Jewish, and when the girls found out that she wasn’t Christian, they began to whisper and exclude her. Another student shared a story where he had been made fun of because his grandmother was black and someone called her a “monkey.”
The students seemed very engaged in the workshop, especially learning more about the Holocaust (they had previously read Hana’s Suitcase) – and they were very surprised to know the Jewish community is still the target of hate crimes today.