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USC Shoah Foundation To Participate in Czech-Polish Seminar on Teaching with Testimony

Staff from USC Shoah Foundation will gather with education leaders, teachers and other experts to explore the best practices of using filmed witness testimony in education in Ostrava, Czech Republic, on June 5.

Ostrava is located on the border of Czech Republic and Poland, and the seminar participants will hail from Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. The seminar, organized in partnership with the local PANT civic association, will offer them a unique opportunity to learn first-hand about the effects of using testimony in 21st-century classrooms. It will also convene a discussion about how practices across the region can be applied in different localities to address various educational challenges.

The seminar reflects the need and demand for greater regional cross-border cooperation and coordination in the field of education, said Martin Šmok, USC Shoah Foundation senior international training consultant based in Czech Republic.

“The need stems not only from the shared history and shared locations in an area of ever-changing borderlines, but it also is rooted in the current political alliances and the existence of regional bodies such as the Visegrad group,” Šmok said. “Due to the course of World War II and the history of the Holocaust, Poland is a key element of this shared history. Conversations about presenting this shared history in a proper educational setting are much needed throughout the region.”

Teachers who have completed USC Shoah Foundation’s Teaching with Testimony in the 21st Century program, in which teachers in Europe are trained on using testimony from the Visual History Archive in their own classrooms, will present the testimony-based resources and lessons they’ve developed. The seminar participants will also begin to develop a multi-lingual interactive web resource containing VHA testimony clips relevant to the shared history of Czech Republic and Poland during World War II. The resource will be available on the PANT and USC Shoah Foundation websites.

Representing USC Shoah Foundation at the seminar along with Šmok will be Andrea Szönyi and Monika Koszyńska (regional consultants in Hungary and Poland, respectively), Director of Education Kori Street and Educational Program Designer Claudia Wiedeman. The special envoy of the Czech government for Holocaust issues and the head of the Hungarian International Holocaust Remembrance Association (IHRA) delegation were also invited.