Local high school students learn first hand from Holocaust survivors during Holocaust Documentation and Education Center Student Awareness Day

Jeff LaLiberte

MIAMI, Fla. – On Thursday, March 6, 2014, Barry University welcomed more than 400 Miami-Dade high school students as it hosted the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center (HDEC) for its Student Awareness Day series.

The HDEC’s Student Awareness Day series is now in its 28th year of existence. The events function as prejudice reduction symposia whereby high school students learn the dangers of racism, hatred, and bigotry through videos, lectures, and round-table discussions with survivors of the Holocaust. By relating to the tragic personal stories of Holocaust survivors, students begin to understand that no one is immune to the evil of discrimination.

The event at Barry featured more than 50 Holocaust survivors who survived the horrors of Nazi Germany. Among the unique activities that took place, the survivors and students paired up for roundtable discussions in which the survivors shared their experiences of hate and prejudice and how they endured their torturous conditions.

In addition to the survivors, the event featured three guest speakers whom shared their experience with prejudice and how they overcame hate. The speakers in attendance included: Former skinhead Angela King, Dr. Abraham Gittelson, senior consultant at the Orloff Central Agency for Jewish Education, and Howard Finkelstein, a public defender and regular contributor to WSVN with his “Help Me Howard” series.

Barry University has been involved with the HDEC since its foundation in 1980. The HDEC’s founding president was Sister Trinita Flood, OP, President of Barry from 1974-1981. Since then, Barry’s former president, Sister Jeanne O’Laughlin, OP, PhD, and current president, Sister Linda Bevilacqua, OP, PhD, have served and continue to serve on the HDEC Board of Directors.

Since its foundation, the HDEC seeks to combat prejudice in our multicultural, ethnically diverse community by educating students and alerting them to the dangers of prejudice. For more information on the HDEC, visit their webpage at: http://www.hdec.org/.