PHS Students visit United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C.

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photo by Ava Rand

On March 2, PHS staff and students visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. to help students better understand civil rights and diversity within the student body. Rabbi Adam Feldman of the Princeton Jewish Center accompanied the group.
At the museum, students were able to examine numerous exhibits related to various aspects of the Holocaust such as the rise of Adolf Hitler, children in concentration camps, and Nazi propaganda.
Additionally, some students had the chance to speak with a Holocaust survivor and view interactive exhibits, including the story of a young boy named Daniel, where students could visit a re-creation of his home, as well as a re-creation of the concentration camp he was sent to.
Feldman felt that the trip allowed students to learn about the Holocaust in a different way by being outside of the standard classroom setting.
“You can learn a lot in the classroom and you can have group discussions, but coming [to the museum] is a different kind of experience and way to learn,” Feldman said.
PHS staff and students felt that they were able to enhance their previous knowledge of the Holocaust through the evidence presented at the museum.
“For me, personally, the trip made a lot of what I’ve read and seen in movies real. There was real, tangible evidence [of the Holocaust],” said Andrea Dinan, Director of Service Learning and Experiential Programs at PHS.
After the trip, Feldman hoped students would become more aware of modern forms of hate and feel inspired to speak out against injustice, specifically discussing the recent rise of anti-Semitic acts throughout the US.
“[These trips] can [have an impact on students] but … it could be two weeks or six months. If something happens at school and [a student] says ‘you know, when I was at the Holocaust museum I learned … therefore I’m going to react this way,’” Feldman said.
PHS staff expressed similar sentiments, as they felt that the district should continue to raise awareness on modern anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance to foster certain skills within students to help them sense hatred that may surround them.
“I hoped that [students] would take away a certain … empathy for people who go through similar experiences like genocide, massacres … being forced to flee a country and become refugees,” said Malachi Wood, a French teacher at PHS. “I hope [students will] recognize signs leading up to political situations where such things as the Holocaust are possible.”
Some students expressed the increasing importance of learning about influential moments in history and advocated for PHS to continue trips promoting understanding in the future.
“Now, in this generation, everyone needs to be educated on certain topics such as racism and discrimination, and it would be very helpful if [PHS] implemented more of these trips because everyone can take something away from it,” said Fedlyne Cleophat ’18.

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