Teachers Discover IWalks in Hungary and Poland

Tue, 07/01/2014 - 5:00pm

Hungarian ethics teachers and Polish educators were introduced this spring to IWalk, USC Shoah Foundation’s educational program that combines testimony with real-life locations, and are interested in incorporating it into their teaching.

Launched in Hungary in 2013, IWalk is an interactive educational program that connects concrete physical locations with memories of historical events that took place on these locations in several European countries. Holocaust survivor and witness testimonies from USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive are combined with other primary sources during visits to authentic locations to provide the often missing spatial, social and regional contexts as well as the personal aspect of historical events. The designed onsite educational activities support the development of personal connection of students and members of the public to the past – enabling an impact of their actions in the present and the future. IWalks are currently offered for Budapest and Prague.

Andrea Szönyi, international training consultant in Hungary, organized two IWalks in April through the Merei Pedagogical Institute in Budapest  in partnership with the Zachor Foundation for Social Remembrance. The IWalks were part of Merei Pedagogical Institute’s training program for middle- and high school teachers who will begin teaching ethics, a subject that recently became part of Hungary’s national curriculum. Each session was attended by 20 teachers. Afterward, the teachers noted that the IWalk “made the past personal and real,” and the survivors’ stories were memorable and deeply affecting.

The IWalks were such a success that Szönyi was invited back to lead two more in June for another 42 teachers.

Szönyi also spoke at the teacher conference Education at Memorial Sites and Antisemitism in Poland and Hungary at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews (a Visual History Archive access site) in Warsaw, Poland. Szonyi gave a presentation about IWalks as an efficient tool for education at memorial sites and participated in a panel discussion with Polish educators and experts. While there is not currently an IWalk available in Poland, it was the first time the program was presented to Polish educators and many expressed interest in adapting the method.