USC Shoah's Daisy Miller was able to get just about everyone talking in our circle of teachers and students.
|Friday morning started like any other day on this trip, except we knew it was the day we would leave. Friendships made would endure, and we overheard some students talking about a reunion in Boston next year. Though we packed our suitcases and brought them down, we knew we had a full morning of work ahead of us. People to meet and places to go.
Our first meeting was with Holocaust survivor Daisy Miller of Shoah. Daisy led a discussion among all participants that invoked their memories of the week, their emotions over the testimonies, and each student and teacher voiced his and her thoughts about how this week would impact their future. Everyone shared, and it was remarkable. We thank Daisy Miller for her excellent approach to this portion of the Holocaust Remembrance Project week.
Afterwards, we brought our bags out front and met our drive "George" who loaded us up and brought us to Holland & Knight's offices in downtown Los Angeles.
Our first meeting at Holland & Knight's offices was with a survivor of the Rwandan Genocide in 1994 - a time when all of us were alive, recent history, and a harsh history to hear. Edith Umugiraneza was the survivor, and she spoke quietly as she told of the massacre that robbed her of her mother, her sisters, and her brothers. We were speechless. Edith cautioned that the world must not only listen, but connect. Even today, she stated, the old hatreds are a risk if connections are not made out into the world giving people of Rwanda a chance to tell their stories, speak their fears, and find hope for the future.
After a short break, Holocaust survivor Edith Flagg joined the group, and told her of her upbringing and education that helped prepare her for the Nazi invasion. Edith not only saved herself, but also saved her child. She worked with the Dutch Underground, became a Red Cross Nurse, and sadly learned of her husband's death in Auschwitz.
Edith stayed for lunch, and our group along with the Holocaust Remembrance committee of Holland & Knight's Los Angeles office dined with us. By 2:00 we were off again, and this time for the last experience we would share as a group -- a historical one, but also a happy one. We left for a Paramount Studio Backlot Tour!
Some early departures left the group, and the rest of us headed to Hollywood Boulevard where we dined at 25 Degrees at the Roosevelt Hotel.
The stragglers who were boarding red-eye flights had more time, and we landed up at Grauman's Chinese Theater and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
And then it really was goodbye. The only group that stayed together was Doreen, Deb, Angela, and Jay -- all on the Atlanta Flight. Rachel was with us for the great suitcase fit test, and then left for Cincinnati. We got Field's baggage checked and off he went to Vicksburg. Kristen headed for Milwaukee, Rose Marie to Brownsville, and Alice to Korea. Amazingly, we all fit in the Limo that George sent to take us to the airport!
We are never really separated from this experience though. What we shared is a bond that endures - the words, the images, the tears, the laughter -- this is the Holocaust Remembrance Project - and "Life is Very Interesting." Dr. Brauns.