Resiliency, Rebirth and New Life

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 10:23am

In just a few short months I will be holding a new born baby in my arms. The depth and complexity of emotion that I feel as this time approaches is multiplied by the experiences I have had working at USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education.

New acquaintances who inquire about what I do for a living often respond by saying, “Gosh, that must be depressing.” And my response has always been the same, “Actually, it is amazing and inspiring.” And it truly is.

The stories of the individuals who gave testimony to USC Shoah Foundation are those of survival. They begin with one’s earliest memories of childhood and their home land, take us through their harrowing experiences during genocide, and then to present day life where we often see that they are thriving and surrounded by children and grandchildren.

When I think of the testimonies in the Visual History Archive the words “resiliency,” “rebirth” and “new life” come to mind first. Please do not misunderstand me, the testimonies are indeed filled with great loss and sorrow beyond what most people will ever experience or understand.

It is important that we listen, especially closely during these moments and allow ourselves to connect, empathize and be inspired to take action. The reason I think of those three words first is because there is an overarching theme that emerges time and time again among the 107,000 hours of footage–a message of hope for the future. In fact, there is an indexing term for the very moment in one’s testimony when an individual shares their “future message.”

When I shared the news that my husband and I were expecting our first child, my colleagues at USC Shoah Foundation responded with an immediate outpouring of joy and support. It is here, in a place where we examine and try to learn from some of the darkest moments in human history, that we are able to truly understand and celebrate new life.

It is the compassion and respect for human life that all those who work for and connect with our organization possess, which reaffirms my belief that there can be a future without genocide.


Krystal Szabo