Board of Councilors Members Write Poems Inspired by IWitness Activity

Mon, 11/02/2015 - 5:00pm

Members of the USC Shoah Foundation Board of Councilors got creative during the annual board meeting in New York, Oct. 14-15.

In a breakout session led by Director of Education Kori Street, members of the Board of Councilors and Next Generation Council completed the upcoming IWitness Mini-Quest activity “Finding Your Seat on the Bus,” which was piloted by students at the Henry Ford Academy as part of the IWitness Detroit program this summer.

Through the testimonies of Holocaust survivor Kurt Messerschmidt, American politician Elizabeth Holtzman, and liberators Leon Bass and Paul Parks, students learn about the combination of characteristics, grit and determination it takes to be a social innovator and to make a difference.  The activity concludes with each participant writing their own poem about their goals, obstacles and determination, using words like “grit,” “resilience” and “courage.”

Read the inspiring poems below:


Greatness comes from within

Remember the past, experience the present,

be mindful of the future

Imagine 20 years – where will you be

what will you stand for and when you will protect

Teach yourself now so you won’t experience regret.

-By Jayne Perilstein, Executive Director of Development, and Melanie Dadourian, Next Generation Council (NGC)


G is the good within us

R is the resilience to past inhumanity

I is the inevitable conclusion about what will happen if there is no action

T is the truth which must see the light of day.

-By Elizabeth Bohart, NGC


Our ancestors left their homes to seek a better life.

We exist become of this desire to survive and thrive.

Never forget where we came from and where we may have to go.

                                                            -By William Lauder, Board of Councilors (BOC)


The SonderKommando's Song


Gratitude for the Song of the Sonderkommando stays with me still,

Remembering his broken notes sing 'Mama' in the Auschwitz night,

Icy still is my breath as we bear witness to his survival,

Transcendent is his courage for life to overcome.

                                                            -By Qanta Ahmed, NGC


Grateful for your life

Remember those less blessed

Intend to stand up

for those in need and be

Thankful you can give back and be an upstander.

                                                            -By Ulrika Citron, NGC


God will see you and bless…

Return your efforts with a “yes”

In your life’s work you will find

Thanks and meaning for actions kind.

                                                            -By Anita Friedman, BOC


Did you ever think you could do it?

Do you even know what “it” is?

The indomitable spirit and strength you have

will allow you to achieve what you thought not possible.


You know now that you can do it

and you can define each day what “it” is.

Never doubt your ability or strength or confidence

And achieve at the very least

the impossible.

                                                            -By Steven Cozen, Chair


Guts to be bold and fight on

Really know your voice matters

Imagine you will create a better world

Teach Them To Believe in The Impossible.

                                                            -Samuel Pond, NGC