Institute News

Crimean Teachers Attend Seminar on Oral History and Human Rights

Despite the current political turmoil in their country, six teachers from Crimea traveled to Kyiv last month for a seminar on oral history and USC Shoah Foundation’s Where Do Human Rights Begin teacher’s guide, led by Ukraine international consultant Anna Lenchovska.

The seminar was organized by the Czech Association for International Affairs (AMO) for social science and humanities teachers of the Crimean Tatar ethnic group. It included a trip to the Malach Center for Visual History at Charles University in Prague, where the teachers learned how to use the Visual History Archive.

Lenchovska then led the group in a session about the new, USC Shoah Foundation-initiated multimedia teacher’s guide Where Do Human Rights Begin: Lessons of History and Contemporary Approaches. It consists of 10 modules highlighting the rights guaranteed by the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights along with historical reviews of human rights violations in Nazi Germany and Stalin’s USSR and also analyses of recent cases from the European Court of Human Rights. The guide is designed for secondary school teachers across a variety of disciplines, including history, law, civic education, and psychology, as well as specialized civics courses for pre-service and in-service education, seminars for university students and extracurricular activities.

The online resource is composed of 10 modules on topics including “Right to Life,” “Right to a Fair Trial,” “Privacy and its Limits,” and “Rights of the Child.” Each lesson includes clips of Holocaust survivor testimony from the Visual History Archive, biographical information about the survivors, and a lesson guide for the teacher. The resource also includes training page with an interactive map and a photo gallery of teachers and students using the resource.

Lenchovska said she was unsure what to prepare for the seminar since human rights are violated widely in Crimea and there is tension surrounding the current crisis. She decided to introduce the teachers to the “Identity and Human Dignity” module because it is universal, she said. It was received very well.

“We had great discussion on Mikhail Zaslavskii's testimony about the record of "Jewish" ethnicity on passports and compared that with experience of Crimean Tatars in Soviet Union,” Lenchovska said. “Then we discussed various components of identity: how do we think about ourselves and how others perceive us, that people are discriminated because of their racial appearance, origin, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, etc. – and that often we can influence this process.”

The group also discussed part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its relevance for today. All the teachers went home with the teacher’s guide and DVDs of testimony clips.