Institute News

Expanded Junior Intern Program Kicks Off at USC Shoah Foundation

A few familiar faces and many more new students attended the first session of the 2015-16 Junior Intern program at USC Shoah Foundation this weekend.

The USC Shoah Foundation Junior Intern program is an opportunity for middle- and high school students to work with testimony of survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides to develop their own voices as they become responsible participants in a civil society. Through this program, participants work in a university environment while developing an understanding of different types of memory, deepening proficiency in digital literacy and improving communication skills. There will also be community service opportunities and fieldtrips.

Last year’s 13 Junior Interns completed IWitness activities and met with survivor Paula Lebovics in Los Angeles and then traveled to Poland to attend the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in January 2015.

The new cohort of 29 new students and nine returning Junior Interns was chosen from a highly competitive group of applicants in grades 6-12 from across the United States. Most of the students are from Southern California, but there are also Junior Interns in Michigan, Alabama, Florida and Pennsylvania. Because the monthly meetings are held on the USC campus, these students will join in via Skype.

In their applications, the students spoke eloquently about why they wanted to be part of the Junior Intern program. Some said they wanted to learn about history from the voices of survivors, while others wanted to learn how to promote tolerance and equality through testimony. Others said they wanted to be exposed to new cultures and broaden their knowledge of world events.

Meetings will be held once a month, with separate meetings for the middle- and high schoolers, led by USC Shoah Foundation Senior Content Specialist and Trainer Lesly Culp. The first session on Sunday, Sept. 27, included everyone.

Culp and Director of Education Kori Street introduced the Junior Interns to the program goals and expectations, and then led the students in activities to introduce them to some of the concepts they will delve into throughout the year. They discussed current incidents of racism and learned about comparing/contrasting primary sources.