Impact in Profile: Armaan Patel

Impact in Profile: Armaan Patel

The idea of building inclusive connected communities through the testimonies of genocide survivors may be a novel one, but DePauw University Student Body Vice President Armaan Patel is eager to learn more about it at the USC Shoah Foundation Intercollegiate Diversity Congress (IDC) later this week.

Patel, a biology, religious studies and Asian studies triple major, is one of 20 student leaders from higher education campuses across the United States who will attend the summit, to be held Oct. 13-14, 2017, on the USC campus. It will support their efforts in building inclusive connected communities. USC Shoah Foundation will provide resources and training for the student leaders to be able to convene groups of students, staff and faculty to explore and engage in dialogue around campus climate issues.

The IDC is a program of USC Shoah Foundation’s Countering Antisemitism Through Testimony initiative.

When he first saw USC Shoah Foundation Senior Director of Programs and Operations Kori Street’s keynote presentation at the National Campus Leadership Council’s Presidential Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. in June, about how student leaders could use genocide survivor testimony clips to encourage diversity and inclusion on campus, Patel admits he was a bit skeptical. He’d never heard of such a concept before.

But once Street showed a few clips to the group, Patel was intrigued.

“I thought it was really interesting. It was a very different approach to the issues a lot of colleges are facing with diversity and sexual assault and all that,” Patel said. “After a couple of clips she showed, it seemed like a very effective tool to reach wider audiences and teach these lessons that are very hard to teach.”

DePauw, like many universities, has wrestled with how to address issues of diversity and inclusion, Patel said. One of the biggest challenges he’s encountered is finding a jumping off point to start talking about these issues and getting other students involved as well.

But the resources offered at the upcoming IDC summit may inspire people to take notice.

“The intrigue of using these stories of Holocaust survivors and applying them to these broad issues that we face, just that idea alone is enough to have people open their ears and start to listen,” Patel said.

Patel is looking forward to learning about the tools USC Shoah Foundation has to offer and being a leader for fellow students.

“As student leaders it falls on us to take the reins and shape the future generations and start paving that path so this isn’t an issue in the future or it’s easier to talk about or things aren’t so divisive,” he said. “As student leaders it’s really important for us to be involved in not only issues on our campus but in the real world.”