A Call to Remember: Teaching Genocide Awareness Month

A Call to Remember: Teaching Genocide Awareness Month

Special thanks to our guest contributors at the Ohio Holocaust and Genocide Memorial and Education Commission (OHGMEC) for writing this month's blog on teaching Genocide Awareness Month.

Genocide Awareness Month is observed annually in April to raise awareness about genocide, honor victims, and promote prevention efforts. Throughout this month, various organizations, educational institutions, and communities in Ohio and worldwide host events to shed light on past atrocities such as the Holocaust and the Cambodian and Armenian genocides. This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi.

Understanding genocide requires comprehending the crimes committed. Survivor accounts allow individuals to make a personal connection to these tragic events. It also gives the survivors a way to help heal, advocate for justice, and promote reconciliation.

History teacher Libby Stineman at Hathaway Brown School in Shaker Heights emphasizes the indispensable role of survivor testimony in her classroom, stating, “It humanizes the event and helps students recognize that these were real people who could have easily been them or their family, had they just been born in a different place.” Teachers can learn how to incorporate survivor perspectives into their classrooms and access video testimonies using the USC Shoah Foundation IWitness teacher portal. Additionally, museums like the Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center in Cincinnati and the Maltz Museum in Beachwood amplify Ohio-based survivor narratives and provide valuable classroom resources. Educators can invite Ohio Holocaust survivors and their descendants to engage with students through the Coppel Speakers Bureau or Face to Face program. Ohio teachers seeking to enrich their curriculum can secure funding from OHGMEC for Holocaust and genocide-focused field trips and professional development by applying through this link.

In 2017, Tutsi survivor Consolee Nishimwe shared her experience with the USC Shoah Foundation. Born in 1979 in Mabanza, Rwanda, Nishimwe was forced into hiding for three months during the violence, she endured torture and the death of numerous family members and friends. When asked what she wanted future generations to know she replied, “I want them to open their minds to educate themselves about the past history, our history, and make sure nobody is going to force them to forget…and that they need to make sure they learn how to care and love one another.”

Remembrance is an active pursuit, serving as both a cautionary tale and a call to action. Rebuilding after genocide does not entail forgetting the past but rather keeping its memory alive to strive for a peaceful future. Listening to survivors is a crucial part of achieving this goal.

Commemoration events will take place throughout Ohio in April and May. In honor of Genocide Awareness Month, OHGMEC will provide free admission to the Maltz Museum  throughout April to view the special traveling exhibit “The Girl in the Diary,” which ends on April 28.

For more educational resources, funding opportunities, and information on commemoration events, please visit our website.


Blog image courtesy of the Ohio Holocaust and Genocide Memorial and Education Commission (OHGMEC).

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