The following post visit activities are recommended by the Museum of Jewish Heritage for the students to be used at teacher’s discretion:
I. Thank you to the speaker at the time of the visit
The class should prepare a token of thanks to the survivor, to be presented at the time of the visit: a bouquet of flowers, a nicely written joint Thank You note, or some other small gift.
II. Individually written thank you letters to speakers
This should be done very soon after the visit of the Holocaust survivor/speaker. Drafts of letters should be reviewed by the teacher and each student. A final draft should be written by each student. The teacher should write his/her own letter to the survivor, and mail it together with all the student letters to the survivor’s home. These letters are very meaningful to the survivors; they validate their effort and give them hope for a better future.
A.The letter has several educational goals:
Courtesy: Students learn to say Thank You to the guest who came to share their experiences with them. The guest has given of his/her time, described experiences that were difficult and bring back painful memories. Students learn to give something back to people who gave to them. Survivors who interact with students do so because they hope to influence their values and impact on student behavior.
Writing skills: A letter should be written by each individual student. This demands that the student formulate ideas, organize them, and express them clearly and legibly. The content of the letter should demonstrate that the student learned something from the survivor’s visit or that the visit will have a lasting effect.
Impact: Hopefully, the visit will illustrate how certain values, or lack of values, influence behavior. Ideally, this experience will help students identify these values in their own life experiences, and inspire them to engage in value-based actions in the future.
B. Format of the letters may be in any form – written, musical, artistic, etc. as long as it includes the following components:
- Thank you for giving time and effort to our class.
- I appreciated hearing about [specific point(s)] because ……
- I learned [specific point(s)]
- I will always remember [specific idea or value based judgment]
III. Visit to the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust
A class visit to the Museum is an excellent reinforcing activity that will provide more contexts to the experiences described by the survivor. Artifacts will illustrate parts of the Holocaust experience. The visit should be arranged in advance with the Museum Education Department. Request the “Meeting Hate With Humanity” tour led by a Gallery Educator, for middle or high school classes. Describe the class to the scheduler with whom you speak, and suggest areas that will be of particular interest to the class, in view of their interaction with the survivor.
IV. Viewing video excerpts of interviews
Using the film sources listed in the Bibliography, the teacher, or small groups of students, should select video excerpts of interviews with survivors, and create projects based on those stories. If possible, the survivor who visited the class should be invited to attend any performance or viewing of the projects.
Projects might include:
- writing a script and dramatizing an episode from an interview
- creating and dramatizing a mock “trial” of a character in an episode
- debating an issue that arises in an interview
- creating an art project or a musical composition based on an episode
V. Reading a diary or memoir or viewing a film
Using the sources listed in the Bibliography, the class should view a film or read a diary from the Holocaust. Writing or project assignments can include comparing and contrasting the story in this material with the story of the survivor who visited the class, or with one of the stories in a video excerpt.
A more challenging writing project, which might be done with the English department in your school, would be to have the students write their own diaries or journals for a short, specific period of time. Like the Holocaust diaries they have read, these journals should include what they did, what was happening around them, who they interacted with, how they felt, and what their thoughts were about what was happening. Class discussion would analyze the process of keeping track, choices of material to include, how they felt about keeping the diary. The contents of the diaries/journals may or may not be shared – that should be voluntary.