Tolerance and Holocaust Education Reaches Thousands in Ukraine through Nationwide Training Program
Fri, 10/16/2009 - 12:00am
Over 3,000 teachers trained and equipped with a new tolerance education resource.

Three thousand two hundred teachers throughout the 24 regions of Ukraine and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea have been trained and equipped with a new tolerance education resource:  Encountering Memory, a multimedia kit for teachers to support the educational use of Spell Your Name, director Sergey Bukovsky’s documentary film about the Holocaust in Ukraine.

From October 2007 through December 2008, the USC Shoah Foundation Institute and the Victor Pinchuk Foundation (co-producers of Spell Your Name), in partnership with the All-Ukrainian Association of Teachers of History and Civic Education, Nova Doba, and in cooperation with the Ukrainian Center for Holocaust Studies, conducted a nationwide program to provide teachers in Ukraine with copies of Encountering Memory and training on its use.  By the time it concluded, the program reached 3,200 teachers and at least 14,156 students.  Now, teachers throughout Ukraine can use this resource to commemorate the victims of Baby Yar and other Holocaust-related tragedies with their students for years to come.

Mikhail Tyaglyy, Research Specialist of the Ukrainian Center for Holocaust Studies, and Oleksandr Voytenko, former President of Nova Doba and a history teacher at Hadyach Gymnasium, co-authored Encountering Memory and participated as trainers in the program.  “The experience we gained while conducting trainings throughout Ukraine was particularly valuable because it allowed us to understand that we are all united by common history, common values, and territory,” said Voytenko.  “Of course, we are different.  The west is different from the east, the south from the north; we have different stereotypes, different values, different traditions.  But at the same time,” he said, “when we discuss the importance of education and fostering humanity, we are all the same.”

In addition to a copy of Spell Your Name, the Encountering Memory kit contains video clips from the testimonies of survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust.  The testimonies are part of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s archive of nearly 52,000 interviews with Holocaust eyewitnesses.  The video clips, as well as additional materials in the kit, are designed to help teachers use the film to educate students about xenophobia, discrimination, tolerance, democratic coexistence, and other topics.

“The video materials that come with the kit provide an excellent opportunity to view the [Holocaust] through the life of a single human being,” said Tatyana Sydorenko, a teacher at School #57 and assistant principal at Beth Menachem School in Luhansk.  “The ability to find history within ourselves is extremely important.  This is a completely new approach toward history.”

Encountering Memory departs from the chronological approach often used to address the history of the Holocaust, instead employing a values-based approach that shows students how the lessons of the past can inform the decisions they make in their daily interactions with others.  Its modular structure gives teachers the flexibility to decide how best to integrate Encountering Memory into their classrooms.  The kit was approved by Ukraine’s Ministry of Education and Science in July 2007.

“The broad reach and resonance of the training program has ensured a lasting impact of Encountering Memory across Ukraine,” said Kim Simon, Managing Director of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute.  “The Institute hopes that teachers will continue to use this resource to encourage dialogue in classrooms and communities throughout the country.  We are grateful to have had this opportunity to work with the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, Nova Doba, and the Ukrainian Center for Holocaust Studies, and we look forward to further cooperation in the future.”

Encountering Memory, and the events, training, and materials surrounding its use and distribution, are made possible by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation.

About the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education

Established in 1994 to collect and preserve the testimonies of survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust, the USC Shoah Foundation Institute maintains one of the largest video digital libraries in the world:  nearly 52,000 video testimonies in 32 languages and from 56 countries.  The Institute is part of the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences at the University of Southern California; its mission is to overcome prejudice, intolerance, and bigotry—and the suffering they cause—through the educational use of the Institute’s visual history testimonies.

The Institute works within the University and with partners around the world to advance scholarship and research, to provide resources and online tools for educators, and to disseminate the testimonies for educational purposes.  In addition to preserving the testimonies in its archive, the Institute is working with partner organizations to help document the stories of survivors and other witnesses of other genocides.

For more information, visit the Institute’s website,

About the Victor Pinchuk Foundation

The Victor Pinchuk Foundation develops and supports projects that contribute to the modernization of Ukraine and to the emergence of a new generation of Ukrainian leaders.  Its six fields of activity and current projects have been carefully selected to contribute to those goals:  Health (national network of neonatal centers:  Cradles of Hope, programs fighting HIV/AIDS in collaboration with Olena Franchuk ANTIAIDS Foundation, Clinton Foundation, and Elton John’s AIDS-Foundation), Education (national scholarship program Zavtra.UA, Kyiv School of Economics, educational tolerance program for schools Encountering Memory based on the documentary about the Holocaust in Ukraine, Spell Your Name (produced in cooperation with Steven Spielberg), Aspen Ukraine Initiative), Culture (center of contemporary art PinchukArtCentre, Four Seasons Chamber Orchestra), Human Rights (legal clinics/legal aid in cooperation with George Soros Foundation), Ukraine in the World (international network supporting European integration of Ukraine Yalta European Strategy, projects in cooperation with Amicus Europae Foundation, Brookings Institution, Peterson Institute of International Economics, International Crisis Group), and Local Communities (project Beit Tzindlikht).

For information about the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, visit

About Nova Doba

Nova Doba, the All-Ukrainian Association of Teachers of History and Civic Education, is a national public educational organization. It consists of 24 collective members from various regions of Ukraine. The mission of the Nova Doba Association is to promote development of history and civics education in the educational institutions of Ukraine for the purpose of improving the process of democratization in the country’s public life.  Nova Doba conducts conferences and educational seminars; develops educational and methodological products for the secondary school classes of History and Civics; participates in the preparation and discussion of state documents on education policy, textbooks, and teaching aids; and publishes the periodical Doba, an educational-methodological chronicle on history and civics education.

For information about the Nova Doba Association, visit