The International Student Association (ISA) hosted a Holocaust Awareness Night event Jan. 25 in the Dugan-Gorges Conference Center.
Professor Larry Justice presented on the book, “Until We Meet Again: A True Story of Love and Survival in the Holocaust." Justice's childhood friend Michael Korenblit wrote the book about his parents' experience in concentration camps during the Holocaust.
At the beginning of the school year, the ISA sat down to discuss what events they would like to bring to campus throughout the year and ISA President Martina Viale thought educating students about the Holocaust was important. Viale, an international student from Italy, said, "In Italy, we have what we call 'Giorno Della Memoria' (Day of Remembrance), which is on Jan. 27. During that day, every TV channel shows either documentaries or movies about the Holocaust. In schools, we have a minute of silence and usually, speakers come and talk about the reality of what the Holocaust was.”
Viale thought it would be a good tradition for the ISA to bring to campus. “We decided that it would be nice to educate others about this tragedy, which is not usually talked about a lot,” she said.
ISA member Jenny Sellaro had Justice in an oral communication course last semester and recalled his many references to this book. In fact, it was a required reading for students in most of his courses.
He began the presentation with a quote from George Santayana — "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Justice noted the importance of history and the lessons it teaches us.
The book itself explains the story of Meyer and Manya, the author's parents, and their journey through World War II and beyond. They were Jewish teenagers in love when the war began, residing in Poland. They were torn from each other and their families and sent to concentration camps where both barely survived. By the time the war was over, Manya weighed a shocking 65 pounds.
Though the content of the story is dark, the ending and overall message are happy. Justice said it is important to remember "we can learn positive things out of negative situations."
Justice's presentation focused on accepting those who differ from us and treating everyone equally.
He said, "We each are unique individuals. We each have value. We each succeed and fail. We can learn from one another. No human being has infinite knowledge."
Justice has an extensive background in education, philosophy, ethics and oral communication and was a campus minister for 40 years. This story is close to his heart, he said, and he hoped students would leave the presentation with a stronger sense of community. He urged them to visit the website of an organization that Korenblit began called Respect Diversity Foundation. The website says that the organization is "promoting tolerance and acceptance across differences through communication, education, collaboration and the arts."