Institute News

Junior Interns finish video projects to counter intolerance

It was their last day to work together and the William P. Lauder Junior Interns still had plenty to get done.

Computers were running low on juice and the snacks were dwindling, but the students on Sunday powered through until they completed their final projects: videos -- inspired by students' engagement with USC Shoah Foundation testimonies -- that highlight their efforts to counter intolerance.

The final projects are the completion of the IWitness Video Challenge–Stronger than Hate project. The interns cannot officially enter the contest, but they complete it as a way to become active participants in society.  

Split into two groups by age, the students managed to finish by deadline and receive their certificates from Lesly Culp, USC Shoah Foundation’s head of programs in education who oversees the junior intern program.

The younger students turned their attention to the themes of racism, sexism and antisemitism. Viewed through the lens of their personal experience, the interns’ projects were geared toward the goal of taking action.

“They chose to share their stories to bring awareness and provide their teachers with resources available on IWitness to help teach students to be kinder,” Culp said.

The older students tried something new this year: T-shirts covered with messages of gender equality that they researched, designed, produced and sold to raise money for a women’s rights organization. Each student participated in a different portion of the process. Messages include “#StrongerThanHate.” “67 cents to the dollar,” “Fight like a girl” and “Glass ceilings are meant to be broken.”

 “It’s a completely new thing,” Culp said. “I just trusted in whatever idea they came up with. They voted on it.”

Culp said the students have sold about 90 shirts so far.

Student Charlyne Arutwaza said participating in the junior intern program changed the way she sees the world.

“I learned to be an upstander, not just a bystander,” she said. “It’s not something that I thought about before. I think more about what I can do, instead of ‘it’s none of my business.’”

The William P. Lauder Junior Intern Program provides a dynamic and unique learning opportunity to engage with testimonies from survivors and witnesses of genocide so young people can develop their own voice.

The upcoming summer session will take place July 9th-13th and host a group of 25-30 students. It will offer an opportunity for young people to engage with testimony, IWitness resources, and the Institute's work at large.