IWitness at statewide “Day of Learning” for California students and teachers

Mon, 03/18/2013 - 1:10pm

USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education was one of a select few organizations invited by the Jewish Family and Children’s Services (JFCS) Holocaust Center to lead a workshop at the Day of Learning. The JFCS organizes the Day of Learning to help young people gain a deeper understanding of the Holocaust and patterns of genocide, and to inspire moral courage and social responsibility in the future. Its many workshops are enhanced by testimonies of Holocaust survivors and survivors of other genocides.

The 2013 Day of Learning took place on March 17 at Mercy High School, in San Francisco. This year, with the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in mind, the theme of the event was “They Did Not Stand Idly By: Learning from courageous individuals and their acts of resistance in 1943.”

Vanessa Vartabedian, Education Program Specialist for the Institute, led a workshop based on its award-winning website IWitness. Thirty-five students participated in the workshop and completed an activity based on the testimony of Anne-Marie Yellin, a survivor who engaged in acts of resistance during the Holocaust. Yellin came to the workshop personally and answered students’ questions after they had completed the activity.

“The students who participated in the IWitness workshop weren’t enrolled by their teachers; they opted for it because they’re interested in producing multimedia projects and they wanted to hear actual survivors share their memories of the Holocaust,” Vartabedian said. “IWitness gave them both, but then it brought them further—encouraging them to consider others’ acts of resistance as behavior to model when they encounter injustice in their own lives.”

The Day of Learning was established in 2003. It offers students and educators an exceptional interactive learning opportunity to enhance their understanding of critical events in modern history. Each year, more than 550 students and teachers throughout California participate in the event. 

Since its beta release in 2012, IWitness has registered approximately 2,700 educators, 8,000 students in all 50 U.S. states and in 37 countries. Learn more