Sunday, November 30, 2008

Risha's project

All of us at the Library are very gratified at the work you are all doing in teaching the lessons of the Holocaust. Ellen and I are planning to attend Risha's project in Mt. Sterling KY on December 12 when she will have Irving Roth speak to the school and the students will participate in a Shabat dinner. I will post my observations and thoughts upon my return to New York.

Don't forget that we have mini grants available for your Holocaust projects. Contact Sondra or Jennifer with your requests.

We hope to attend the meeting at Philadelphia next year.

Happy holidays to all.

Best wishes.

David A. Field

Sunday, November 23, 2008

NWP Conference

About half our group made it to the conference in San Antonio and it was like seeing my family. Those of you who couldn't make it, we missed you! Sonya and Jennifer held on session on the Holocaust Education program. They showed the video they made in 2007, which was very much like ours. Gatsinzi talked about the changes he has gone through since the program. I will let him address this, but his talk was electric. We also met and heard from Diane, from the 2007 program, and viewed a video she made about her incredible middle school students and their reaction to "Sunflower," and their action in response. This should be posted on the NWP site soon, I am told. Everyone seems to have done amazing things as a result of our NY experience. I am so proud to be a part of this group, and humbled at the same time. I hope Risha will share some of her achievements, as well as some of her trials.

Budget cuts are threatening to curtail some of the work we do at my school, and I fear the same is happening everywhere. I guess we will have to become more creative in finding funding and resources to support our students.

I was glad to see everyone and hope we can all get together soon. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving all.

Friday, November 21, 2008

"Healing and Rebuilding Lives After Genocide"

That was the subtitle of the event I attended last night at the local Gillioz Theatre. The title of the headlining film was ICYIZERE:hope; a documentary, filmed by a Kenyan native transplanted to Springfield, telling the story of a three day workshop that took place in Rwanda. The workshop brought together 10 perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide and 10 survivors, working through various emotional responses to their tragic history. One of the major themes that came up among both perpetrators and survivors was fear and mourning. Rarely did I ever shed a tear in our study while in New York, but watching a young man confess his sadness over mourning the loss of his mother, father, sister and brother, I broke down (ugly style). This young man was jealous of his classmates, knowing that when they fretted over taking home bad grades to their parents he could not have the same fear; instead he had to go home to no one, no scolding or fear of a reprimand for a low mark. This element of genocide, this absolute destruction of the family, is what is most gut-wrenching for me. And nothing else can communicate this as well as personal stories.

The filmmaker has shown the film at the Rwanda Film Festival, over Rwandan television, and at Gisenyi Central Prison (where one of the perpetrators who attended the workshop was imprisoned for his crimes during the genocide), all with the hope that more people will become aware of these workshops and these opportunities to come together, to break down barriers, and to work toward a future of hope.

The final moving portion of the documentary shows groups of perpetrators and survivors working together to identify the “roots” or actions, and the “fruit” or results of the actions. So often, many of the group presenters kept repeating the term Icyizere, which means hope, and, at least for me, knowing the one term and knowing what they were doing-identifying actions that would lead to hope for them as individuals and communities-was like a wave of hope for me. I know that may sound weird, and I don’t think I did a good job of describing it, but I guess it was my purely emotional response to the presentation.

At the end of the night, there was a question and answer period, and the filmmaker brought up many of the same issues that Gatsinzi did in his presentation, especially laying the groundwork for the Rwandan genocide. I was like an excited student with the right answers, able to connect the dots between the causes. For that, I must say thank you to Gatsinzi, for sharing the history with us. And again, I feel like I should thank Sondra and Jennifer and Alice and David and Ellen and Mark and Carole for allowing me to participate in one of the greatest experiences of my life. I left a local pub to go to the theater, and normally I would not have done that, but I know that the time spent together in New York has left such an impression on me that I’m moved to participate in these educational community gatherings. I feel like it’s these little things that can bring us together, and that in the end will keep us together.

To finish on a lighter note, and to add a bit more personal humor to the blog, I've included a school picture from the last day of soccer season. It was the Friday of Spirit Week, and it was "Nerd Day," so I just dressed up like myself, but added the hat and tape on my glasses. I hope you enjoy.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Identity Boxes

Hi Everyone,

I am constantly amazed as I teach the Holocaust to one of my classes. The students in this class seem to look forward to the activities we do. This is the third year I have taught the class, but the first year we have studied the Holocaust. As my students drafted posts and comments for the blog discussion of Night we are having with Danielle's class in McCool Jct., I decided to clean up my work area. In doing so, I discovered the identity box created in NY this past summer. I remembered the fun I had creating and sharing my box with my fellow participants. I debated whether or not to do the activity in my class, but chose not to as of yet because I did not have any scrap fabric or glittery craft supplies, and acquiring them, in my chauvinistic opinion, is a slightly effeminate activity. :D Maybe I might find a huge box of fabric in a garage or rummage sale, but until then identity boxes were on hold.
I decided to save my identity box in a locked cabinet as an example for a later time, but as I passed by my tables of students to put the box away, one of them pointed to my yellow, sunflower adorned box and asked me about it. I started to explain what my identity box represented, and two things happened. For some strange reason I started to be overcome by emotion, and my students all stopped their discussion and listened as I told them about each item on my identity box. Before long, there were multiple requests, "Can we make one?" I mentioned my problem with the lack of cloth fabric, and before I knew it, two students volunteered to bring some the next day we met as a class. So, all I need to do now is go to the craft store and get some other supplies, which only requires a little bit of cash and my ability to overcome my masculine pride and tap into the other side of my brain. :D
I am excited to see what they create.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Blogging Tutorials

I put together some blogging tutorials for a professional development day conference presentation. One presentation is for beginners and covers how to create a blog, post, and make comments. The second one is for more advanced bloggers and shows step by step how to insert pictures, create and embed slideshows, and embed video into a blog post. I hope all is well for everyone. I'm not even sure if anyone is monitoring the blog anymore. If your out there, say hello via a comment.
To Blog or Not to Blog_ Blogging for Beginners

A Blog a Blog a Kingdom for a Blog_ Advanced Blogging