Upstanders (n): those who do not simply stand by in the face of injustice, but understand that each one of us can make a difference
One year ago today I was with several of my colleagues in L.A. at one of our partnership network schools during the bombing of the Boston marathon. We were there to bring Cambodian Genocide survivor Arn Chorn Pond to share his story. Imagine over 100 9th graders sitting on the gym floor for nearly 90 minutes and focused on his every word. Thanks to their teacher Crystal Greene, the students that day were prepared to hear Arn's story, and trusted to grapple with the difficult questions that arise from this genocide and its legacies.
Topics: A View from the Classroom
Like a Facing History classroom conversation, films can inspire reflection about moral choices. On January 27 at our Los Angeles Benefit Dinner, we were honored to have Sir Ben Kingsley introduce a segment on his recent film, Ender's Game about a young boy searching for his moral identity under enormous pressure. Sir Ben spoke about the way film is the modern version of bringing the tribe together at the bonfire to share stories.
Over the years I've had the opportunity to develop a friendship with Hava Ben-Zvi, a survivor of the Holocaust, who has spoken to many of our Facing History classes. Hava is one of my heroes, not just for her story of survival and resilience as a young girl hiding from the Nazis in Poland. She is my hero because even though her education was interrupted during the war, she went on to immigrate to Israel, and then the U.S. where she became an educator, and a librarian. She wrote a memoir of her experience, Eva's Journey, and in her 80s she published, Portraits in Literature: The Jews of Poland, an Anthology, which was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award.
Tonight we are screening the L.A. premiere of Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine, a new documentary about Matthew Shepard, the 21-year-old gay college student who was murdered 15 years ago this month. Directed by Shepard’s friend Michele Josue, and edited by Facing History alum Liam McNiff, the film introduces Shepard in all the richness and complexity of his identity - as remembered by his close friends and family.
Schools are busy places this time of year. It is easy for the last few weeks to slip away without taking a moment to reflect back and celebrate the year's successes and innovations. On May 7, we brought together teachers, administrators and students from our Carson Partnership Schools Network, to take that pause to celebrate and share. Tuesday's celebration was at the GRAMMY museum and included a special performance with Charles Holt and Gerald Rivers in "Martin & Music."
It was New Year’s and I was determined this year to keep a list of the books I read. My husband suggested I develop a rating system. I resisted at first since I wasn’t looking to share my list, just keep track and try to remember a thing or two about the books I read (like maybe the name of the main character). His questions pushed me to consider what it is I like about the books I like. For me the higher ratings go to books that change my thinking or introduce a new idea. The highest rankings go to the books that touch my heart in such a way that I don’t want the book to end, and I literally turn back to the first page and start over. Nicole Krauss’ “The History of Love” was one of those.
Topics: Critical Thinking
David Burstein is a 23 year old Facing History alumnus who thinks deeply about the role of young people in making change. He started the Westport Youth Film Festival while he was in high school, and is the executive director of Generation18, the nation's largest youth run voter engagement organization which he founded in 2006.
I'm sure you've been asked the question many times, "why do you teach?" The tone of the question can reveal alot about what the questioner knows or thinks he/she knows about teaching. At Facing History workshops, we often use an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education by Alice H. Reich called "Why I Teach."
Topics: A View from the Classroom