Institute News

Junior Interns Reflect on Auschwitz: The Past is Present












(Junior interns with Paula Lebovics, third from left, and Lesly Culp, second from right)

Capping off months of preparation, study and travel, the first group of USC Shoah Foundation Junior Interns returned to the Institute’s office in May to present their final thoughts on their participation in Auschwitz: The Past is Present program.

Auschwitz: The Past is Present was led by USC Shoah Foundation and Discovery Education. Twenty-five teachers from around the world and 13 junior interns in middle- and high school traveled to Warsaw and Krakow Jan. 23-28, 2015, to attend the official commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz at Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, visit museums and historical sites, and learn from testimony about how to keep the past alive and relevant for current and future generations. 

Junior interns, Culp and Lebovics at the Museum of the History of Polish JewsSome of the students from the 13-member program talked about what the experience meant to them and how they would use what they learned to do their part to make the world a better place.

Some talked about presentations they gave at their schools or to community groups.  Others told about how the experience impacted their own lives. Students who couldn’t join the activity in person joined in on a conference call.

The youths took turns giving short discussions on the experience that began in months before they traveled to Poland to participate in the official 70th anniversary commemoration of the liberation of the German Nazi Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.

Also in attendance was Holocaust survivor Paula Lebovics, who had helped mentor the group for more than six months. The kids gave her a photograph of all of them in Poland as a keepsake of their time together.

Lesly Culp, senior education specialist and trainer at the Institute, helped plan and implement the trip not only for the students, but for the dozen teachers from around the world who took part in the program.

“The kids impressed me from beginning to end,” she said.