In classrooms, university lecture halls, museums, and other settings that combine to reach millions, the Holocaust survivor and eyewitness testimonies in the Visual History Archive of USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education are being used to teach the world. But at the University of Southern California, students get involved on the other side of the testimonies—as interns who take part in the Institute’s global mission.
“Each student brings a unique set of skills and interests, and they energize us with their enthusiasm and passionate interest in the experiences of survivors,” said Ari Zev, Director of Administration. “They also help us understand how to engage with young people.”
Student interns often describe a lasting effect that survivors’ stories have on them.
“I visited the Institute for a history class I was taking,” said Caitlin Koford, who graduated cum laude in 2009. After just one visit, she was compelled to take an internship and spent many hours conducting research in the Visual History Archive. The memories she encountered resonated with her. “I think about the testimonies quite often,” Koford wrote during graduate school at the University of Chicago, in an article published in the autumn 2010 issue of PastForward. “As a historian, the diversity of the testimonies reminds me to try to understand the many smaller, detailed stories that form the basis for a much larger and more general historical event. On a personal level, the testimonies remind me to appreciate every day; to strive to accomplish my best… Each courageous story of survival demonstrates that there is no obstacle large enough to keep a person from living a very happy and successful life.”
It's common for students to come to the Institute to fulfill a course requirement. Others, such as current intern Brennan Wise, begin with a more personal interest. “My grandparents are survivors who don’t talk about their experiences,” said Wise, a freshman majoring in business administration. “Hearing the personal stories of other people who went through the same camps that my grandparents went through has helped me feel closer to them.”
USC students interested in becoming interns at USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education should contact Ari Zev at 213.740.6008 or firstname.lastname@example.org.