"All too often organizations give much verbal support for education and little in tangible aid. I was not only amazed at the commitment that Holland & Knight has made to education through the Holocaust Remembrance Project, but also the depth of that commitment community-wide.

It was apparent at the awards dinner, that this was not some thin veneer for public relations, but an integral part of the company's philosophy."
 

Skip Aldrich, Teacher
Los Angeles, California

 

"The only way to describe the whole experience is by saying that it was amazing. it was incredible to converse with the survivors. It is such a rare occurrence to be able to interact with history.

What struck me most about the survivors were their ever happy faces. I found it so interesting that although these people faced the most powerful hatred in human history, they are now some of the happiest people that I have ever met.

I could never glance around the room without seeing more than a handful of smiles from the survivors. From this aspect of the trip I've taken away a new appreciation for life. No longer will I take even the minute aspects of life for granted."
 

Jim Malewitz, Student
Jackson, Michigan

Read Jim's essay

 

The Essay: "It became an expression of my deepest emotions concerning the holocaust, a guiding light to shine for those to follow."

The Trip: "It was the dream that every student who truly cares about the holocaust dreams of."

Personal Experiences: "Never in my life have I been asked to carry the vital burden of someone's story, but now I carry five stories and it has made me realize the power I have as one person. I can't ever let go or forget, anything that I've felt or experienced while in DC, I am changed, and I will go forth and change others. The survivors gave me a driving passion beyond comprehension to push forward and make change in the world, and I refuse to back down to any evil I may confront."

Learned: "I learned that the number 11 million was an important number, but what I came away with was five faces and five stories, which weigh more heavily in my heart. Never again is not a reality, but an idea to which we must fight for, and guide others toward at all costs, with love and hope as beacons of light for those lost in the darkenss of mankind's hearts."

Thank You: "I can't begin to say everything I wish to...But I thank Holland and Knight and all the lawyers who contributed to the program, I appreciate their caring and their support. The time and effort that HandK put into making this week happen will never be forgotten, not to me. I also want to thank the survivors for sharing the darkest part of their lives with me, knowing the pain they must have felt each time they even had to think about it. I will be the witness to them, I will not let them down."
 

Lauren Smith, Student
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Read Lauren's essay

 

"Thank you for the amazing experience .... I work a whole year to try and impact student's minds. You all did it one week. Our lives are changed forever by our experiences with the Survivors and their stories. I know I will get back to the USHMM but I know there is nothing like the first time. I can't wait to share my knowledge with my students this year. They are in for a treat. "
 
Jenny Choate, Teacher
Little Rock, Arkansas

 

 

"Thank you for making this week one of the most memorable and powerful experiences of my life. Words are not even nearly sufficient enough to adequately express my deep appreciation and gratefulness toward the benevolence and humanitarian spirit of the organization.

As I nostalgically reflected on my journal entries upon my airplane ride back home, I realized that with each passing day I became furthermore knowledgeable, emotional and passionate about the history of the Holocaust as well as about other heart-wrenching past and present genocides such as Bosnia and Sudan.

In light of my journey of self-discovery during the philanthropically-oriented week, I have decided to join Habitat for Humanity as a volunteer in September after my sixteenth birthday. After the trip, my awareness of the potential unfortunate future of genocides heightened, and I am thus ready to take action in my world because, as Leo Bretholz told me, "The future is in your hands."

The trip has motivated me tremendously to pursue my dream of defending international human rights from arbitrary governments and ill-intentioned groups, and I am now more determined than ever to strive to reach my ultimate career goal and work in close professional affiliation with Holland & Knight. From the bottom of my heart, thank you again for changing my life."
 

Tania Khatibifar, Student
East Northport, New York

Read Tania's essay

 

"I have found the week spent with your "team" and the group of students and teachers to be a very rewarding experience. With all the hatred and violence going on in our world, it's refreshing to be surrounded by so much good will and understanding.

I am very gratified to have received letters from teachers and students who took the time to comment on our encounter. Their words express how much the event meant to them, and that they will take the message conveyed into the future. One student mentioned that she "will never remain quiet in the face of evil."

Many thanks to Holland and Knight for being the moving force in such an important undertaking."
 
Leo Bretholz, Holocaust Survivor
Pikesville, Maryland

 

"The trip to Washington, DC, from July 24 to July 29, 2005, was the best in-service I have ever attended in my thirty years of being a public and private school educator. With a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction, I have taught graduate school. The amount of material that we covered and experienced through our visits to the Holocaust Museum, to the Smithsonian Museums, and by hearing Holocaust survivors share their tragic experiences, has changed my life and will affect how I teach in the future. The overall experience was so powerful, and now that I have been home for one week, I'd like to reflect on numerous experiences I had.

First, I am bringing back over a thousand dollars worth of videos, DVD's, and books (hardbacks, paperbacks, nonfiction research books), as well as units that my high school will be able to use in history and English classes. From the training I received, I have already contacted my building principal and will in-service my fellow high school teachers on all the different materials. I will also use these materials, as English Department chair, with my English III and AP English Language students, plus show them, as well as introduce them to the Holland Knight website where over fifty lessons are available on the Holocaust that use some of the books I received.

Many of these materials will be added to our high school library so they can be used by just not me, but the students and faculty---once I have introduced them to them.

Second, meeting and experiencing the witnessing that the survivors did was so touching, so educational, and so important. I took numerous pictures which I will share with you and with my fellow teachers. Having the opportunity to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner with the survivors, I left this program with the feeling that I had made numerous new friends. We met on Sunday as strangers and left Friday as friends. I have already shared with my principal the powerful presentations that the survivors made. Since returning home, I have read one of the novel written by one of the survivors and viewed three videos with my husband and son.

...

Getting to know the student scholarship winners and the other teachers chosen was worthwhile as well. Going to all the different monuments, especially seeing the WWII Monument for the first time, as well as the American Indian Museum, was so special. I had never experienced before the National Gallery of Art or the Smithsonian History Museum. The photos I took there will be shared with our high school art teacher, while the photos on WW II that I took in the museum will be used when teaching about the Holocaust and WW II. Having the workshop day to have training from a master teacher and to view how we could use the sources being given by Holland and Knight was so important.

Being treated like professional business travelers was so nice. I loved the JW Marriott! Teachers are not used to such royal treatment! Staying on Pennsylvania Avenue afforded me personally the chance to explore each day from 6 AM to 7 AM. On daily walks, I journeyed to the Capitol, to the White House, and to the Canadian Embassy. My camera went on these walks, and I recorded Washington, DC, at a time many people never see it. I viewed the homeless as they slept, I saw the changing of security at the White House, and I watched Washington wake. It was wonderful. Also, I was able to take advantage of the health club by swimming and using the weights and treadmill on the rainy morning we had. Thanks for this aspect of the trip!!

Then we can't forget all those fabulous restaurants that we experienced....from Sequoia in Georgetown, to the National Press Club, and ending at the Hard Rock Cafe on the last day. Of course, I ate quickly so I could visit the Ford Theater and see where President Lincoln had been shot, as well as the house across the street where he unfortunately died. These were all new experiences for me, as well. Having the wonderful breakfast buffet daily at the hotel was nice, as I could choose from such a great variety of foods, plus I could sit with the other teachers and the survivors. The Thursday night banquet was so nice. I enjoyed meeting the Holland and Knight lawyers. Having Mr. Sessions as the MC was so nice and hearing such an important man in public radio as Mr. Schorr was interesting. Being introduced and honored as an educator awed me. And on a lighter note, eating the "White House" for dessert----that will be a once-in-a-lifetime event.

I had never been to the Kennedy Center, so going to "Hairspray" was extremely important to me. It gave us a chance to laugh and see a well-done musical. Going onto the patio at intermission gave me a view of Washington, DC, that I will probably never experience again. Thank you for this as well!!!

The importance of the Holocaust Remembrance Scholarship Contest and trip to Washington, DC. is that we can't forget the eleven million people that died because one man wanted to eliminate a race of people. We, as Americans, need to keep teaching the lessons of the Holocaust. This scholarship contest gives teachers a great reason to stress these historical events that so tragically destroyed so many people. We need to honor American youth who choose to enter and to write powerful research essays. The cost of college just keeps increasing. So every opportunity we have to help our nation's future leaders is important. We also need to strengthen the teachers---and thus the teacher training aspect needs to continue. I know that I will share with my community of learners in Llano, Texas.

Thank you, Holland and Knight, for caring about today's youth and today's teachers. The investment you give will be returned to all our communities. Because you care, we can teach better. This life-changing event for me will never be forgotten."
 

Deborah Engler, Teacher
Llano, Texas

 

 

"Speaking as a survivor, I can tell you that the Holocaust Remembrance Project is a most important one, not only to acquaint our youths with the horrors of the 1933-45 period but also to impress upon them the relevance of those horrors to the present, i.e. Darfur, Rwanda, Kosovo, etc.

I think that I speak for most, if not all survivors when I say that it is not easy to dredge up from our past some of the most painful events in our childhood and youth, but we do it so that those, dearest to us, killed during the Holocaust will not be forgotten and in the hope that their sad fate may help prevent future genocides.

Reading the news, I often wonder whether our efforts are worthwhile, but whenever we have the opportunity to tell our Holocaust experiences to young people, we are rewarded when one or more of them come forward saying that they wished to shake our hand, hug us or send us a "thank you" letter.

Thanks to the Holland & Knight, over 3,000 high school students were encouraged to "immerse" themselves in Holocaust research and hopefully acquainted one or more other persons with their findings. I hope that H&K will continue this program for many more years."
 

Peter Feigl, Holocaust Survivor
Palm City, Florida

 

 

"The essay contest itself was important to me personally because it forced me to study the Holocaust on my own, something I had never done before. Attending a Jewish school for most of my life, I had always learned about the Holocaust in a classroom setting--listening to a teacher (or a survivor as a guest speaker) and taking notes. It was a very passive way of learning about the Holocaust, even if a survivor himself came to talk to our school. I knew the facts and even some of the individual stories, but why did I need to remember? Why was it so important to pass the stories on?

Only by sitting down and tackling the question to the essay contest was I able to truly internalize the Holocaust's impact and to understand its relevance to today's world. The process of writing this essay also made me realize that my generation has the power and responsibility to change the injustice in this world. The essay question asked: how can we reduce prejudice in this world? At first, this seemed like an impossible--almost unrealistic--question, but when I sat down to think about, I realized how clear of an answer there was and this gives me much hope for the future.

To me, the trip was so much more than I expected. I knew we would be touring Washington with other students, teachers, and survivors, but I didn't realize how powerful a force this would turn out to be....10 students from the entire country, who were all devoted and passionate about reducing prejudice and learning from the Holocaust...teachers who created interesting and interactive Holocaust education programs in their respective schools.....and survivors who were willing to relive their tragic stories for our benefit, who wanted to run around Washington with us, and who took every opportunity to teach us something or point out something we had never known before.

The selection of these students, teachers, and survivors is what made the trip as meaningful as it was. The design of the program is unique in that we are given so much time to get to know the survivors on a personal, one-on-one level. To talk over the dinner table with the survivors, to sit on the buses with them, to tour the Holocaust museum with them and be able to have them intertwine their own experiences with the displays in the museum was incredible! And then, to go home and read the books we received from the trip! Wow. I so much appreciated how I could carry home with me their stories. As I read Leo's book, I could hear his voice reciting each and every word. Sometimes, I could see his hand motions as he told the story. This is so special to me because I know that Leo will always live in my memory through his book and through the personal connections we have made on the trip.

Thank you to Holland & Knight for creating such a lovely program. The essay contest helped create within me a special connection to the Holocaust and to my people. It made me look at the Holocaust in a different light. It transformed it from something I had just heard about into something that was real and very tangible. I had previously just learned about the tragedy, but never really extracted the lessons that we must all learn from it: the dangers of indifference, the power of words as well as the peril of their absence, and the nature and dire consequences of prejudice. If I weren't chosen to attend the trip, I would have still been incredibly impacted. But I must say this trip is one of a kind. Through it, I have learned lessons that will stay with me throughout my entire life. "
 

Jennifer Kohanim, Student
Great Neck, New York

Read Jennifer's essay

 

 

"I can honestly say that the week in Washington, D.C. had a profound impact on me and my perspective of the Holocaust. Spending the week with the survivors and listening to their testimonies was especially rewarding."
 
Scott Auspelmyer, Teacher
Blythewood, South Carolina

 

"Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to participate in the Holocaust Remembrance Project last week in Washington, D.C.  I had a wonderful time with all of the participants.

It was obvious to me that Holland & Knight's commitment and dedication to bearing witness added to the quality experience that everyone enjoyed. Your program is 'top-notch.'"
 

Skip Aldrich, Teacher
Los Angeles, California

 

"Simple words on a page cannot convey my sincere gratitude to Holland & Knight for providing me with such a wonderful experience. The knowledge that I have gained, the friendships I have made, and the experiences I have had as a result of your dedication to a better tomorrow will hopefully serve us all for the better.

Thanks again for the truly incredible experience and for your motivation and dedication to such a wonderful cause."
 

Alex Cannon, Student
Minnetonka, Minnesota

Read Alex's essay!

 

"This trip was unlike anything I have ever experienced. The friends I made and the opportunities I was given were amazing!  After listening to the Holocaust survivors ... I realized just how important it is that the remembrance of the Holocaust be passed to future generations. Thank you for this life-changing experience!"
 
Megan McCoy, Student
Pickerington, Ohio

Read Megan's essay!

 

"The experience was truly wonderful; I spent a full week with some of the most incredible people I have ever met. It is a rarity to be among nine 16-18 year-olds with such great empathy for and interest in the Holocaust, in its survivors and its prevention. I was delighted to learn that these students were not all Jewish: one girl was Muslim, and three students were Christian. These non-Jewish students' dedication to Holocaust studies particularly impressed me; on the trip, it was emphasized that fighting injustice requires compassion from those not directly affected by that injustice (the same lesson taught by Pastor Niemoller's famous poem "And Then They Came For Me").

The most remarkable aspect of the trip, however, was the opportunity to meet survivors. Six Holocaust survivors constituted the most essential part of our group. Five of them shared their stories with us in a group setting, and responded to all of our questions. They survived the Holocaust through diverse means: one woman was saved by Oscar Schindler, another by the Kindertransport; one man lived through months in Auschwitz, another jumped off the cattle car to that camp; and one man posed as a Christian while his family was deported. I had the opportunity not only to hear the stories of these survivors, but also to sit next to them on the bus and talk to them over meals. This personal interaction gave me a more three-dimensional picture of these individuals, not only as survivors but also as people enjoying life. I was amazed to find smiles and laughter amidst individuals who had witnessed some of the worst horrors imaginable to humankind.

I consider my trip to Washington an extraordinary learning experience; if I had not won the contest, or received any scholarship, I still would have been given the greatest prize.
 
Courtney Sender, Student
Montvale, New Jersey

Read Courtney's essay!

 

"The Holocaust Remembrance Project has been by far, the best education tool/opportunity project that in which I have been involved. Meeting with the survivors and touring the Holocaust Museum with them was an event that I won't forget. The trip to Washington DC and actually meeting and spending time with those involved in the Holocaust, made the holocaust 3-dimensional. It took what was 2-dimensional in a book, and added the dimension of humanity.

Thank you so much to Holland & Knight for allowing me this opportunity, which has been life-changing. Also thank you for the more than generous supply of books that was given to us teacher. It greatly enriched my library, which I share with my students."
 

Teresa Seaman, Teacher
Pickerington, Ohio