Institute News

Two Schools Collaborate on IWalk in Czech Republic

Marcel Mahdal, a graduate of the USC Shoah Foundation Master Teacher program in Czech Republic (formerly called “Teaching with Testimony in the 21st Century”) launched a project last week in which students from two schools work together to create their own local IWalk.

IWalks are guided walks around historical sites, during which participants watch clips of testimony from the Visual History Archive on a tablet or smartphone. These clips feature Holocaust survivors describing their experiences in these very places.

IWalks have been developed for locations throughout Czech Republic, Ukraine, Hungary and Poland.

Mahdal, who teaches at Jazykové Gymnázium Pavla Tigrida in Ostrava-Poruba, partnered with Lenka Ertlová, a teacher at Gymnázium JAK a JŠ s právem SJZ Uherský Brod in Uherský Brod. Each of their classes will contribute to the construction of an IWalk set in Uherský Brod.

Uherský Brod was a location of one of the regional transit ghettos for Jews during World War II, and the gymnasium (high school) was the actual deportation center.

Mahdal’s students in Ostrava will help identify testimony clips from the Visual History Archive and IWitness that could be used in the IWalk. Meanwhile, Ertlová’s students will do local research in in Uhersky Brod, collecting primary materials and identifying the path of the IWalk and the specific spots where participants will stop and watch each testimony clip.

After the IWalk is built, the two schools will visit each other.

The resulting IWalk will be offered to other schools and adults as a peer-led education program, with the students who helped create it acting as guides. The students may lead the IWalk for students and members of the public on historical dates and anniversaries in order to commemorate the historical events described in the IWalk.

USC Shoah Foundation’s Master Teacher program introduces local educators to the Visual History Archive, IWitness and methodologies of teaching with testimony. Participants develop their own original lesson plans and pilot them in their classrooms, then reunite a year later to share best practices and receive feedback. Mahdal created a lesson called “London Calling,” which focuses on the Czech emigré experience in wartime England and the BBC broadcasts to occupied Bohemia and Moravia.