As I looked across the Green at the rainbow of flags waving in the wind, I couldn’t help but smile. What I had been working so hard on all semester was finally here and it was everything that I had hoped it would be.
This year I was accepted to be the Holocaust Education Intern at UD Hillel. My main duty was to organize Holocaust Education Week, and while I felt honored to receive the position, I was nervous about how I would be able to accomplish this task. I had planned events before, but never a whole week of events! Yet, I was able to push these daunting thoughts out of my mind by focusing on why it was so important to me. Last year I wrote a blog post about my experience on the March of the Living, a two-week trip to Poland and Israel where I walked through the concentration camps that still stand today. That trip instilled in me such a deep appreciation for my religion and desire to ensure that the Holocaust is never forgotten. That is why I decided to put all of my efforts into creating a meaningful week of Holocaust remembrance this year.
I think that this goal was definitely met. I worked with Hillel to organize many events throughout the week that focused on the untold stories and perspectives from the Holocaust. However, I think that the flag display that we set up on the Green generated the largest impact on our campus. Throughout the week we set up 1,100 colored flags outside Memorial Hall to signify the 11 million people who were murdered in the Holocaust. Each color represented a different minority group that was listed on yard signs by the flag display; we wanted to ensure that this memorial honored all victims, not just Jewish people. It felt amazing to hear students and faculty members tell me about how much they had learned from simply observing the flag display and how much meaning they had taken away from it. Walking by the flags on my way to my classes I would notice more and more people stopping to read the yard signs, taking a moment to think and process what they had just witnessed. There is no greater feeling than knowing that you have impacted someone else in a meaningful way.
That week I also learned that education and remembrance is the first step, but we also need to think about what we can do to prevent genocide like this from happening in the future. We haven’t done a very good job at this – places like Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur have all experienced some type of genocide since the Holocaust happened. It is a shame that humanity can create so much evil, but also that we can sit by and watch it happen without taking any action. I urge you to no longer be a bystander. Educate yourself, educate others, and take action, for there is no knowing what the future may hold if we don’t.