Simon Wiesenthal

Local students take the “Tour for Humanity”

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A $1.2 million mobile classroom built by the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies made its way to a pair of Amherstburg schools this week.

The “Tour for Humanity” bus was in the first week of a two-week tour of the area and was brought to the region by the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board. It was at St. Bernard School Wednesday and Stella Maris School Thursday.

Students at Stella Maris School prepare to watch a video regarding the holocaust during the Tour for Humanity's stop at the school May 12. It was brought to the area by the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies and the WIndsor-Essex Catholic District School Board.

Students at Stella Maris School prepare to watch a video regarding the holocaust during the Tour for Humanity’s stop at the school May 12. It was brought to the area by the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies and the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board.

Danny Berman, an educational associate with the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, said they tour all year long with the bus and have been doing so since it was built two years ago. They try to hit all parts of Ontario.

“We’re pretty much booked every day of the school year,” said Berman. “(The students) leave pretty impressed with the bus and it motivates them to make a change and a positive impact.”

Not only do educational associates like Berman talk about the horrors of the Holocaust, they also share messages of racism, slavery, Japanese internment camps, and hate. The presentation also discussed cyber-bullying and Berman told students that is “a great way to spread hate” without feeling they are exposed the same level of consequences in doing so.

Educational associate Danny Berman speaks to a local class May 12.

Educational associate Danny Berman speaks to a local class May 12.

“We show how they are all connected,” said Berman, adding they want people to take action against such things, not be a bystander to them. The centre encourages people to make a positive change.

The presentations also pointed out those who have made a positive difference in the world such as Martin Luther King Jr., Anne Frank and Mahatma Gandhi, though students were also told even small acts of kindness do make a difference.

“At our present point in history, with all of the issues and conflicts our world is currently facing, the need to educate our students about the virtues of acceptance, respect, and understanding has never been more vital or urgent,” said WECDSB director of education Paul Picard in a press release. “These ideals are already woven throughout our curriculum, but with its high-tech capabilities and expert facilitators, the Tour for Humanity’s message will resonate with our students on an entirely new level.”

The bus, once it has finished its stops in the area May 20, will have visited four secondary schools and six elementary schools.

The Tour for Humanity mobile classroom sits outside Stella Maris School May 12.

The Tour for Humanity mobile classroom sits outside Stella Maris School May 12.

“After touring concentration camps in Poland and visiting Israel with the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre, we were extremely impressed by the organization’s depth of knowledge and expertise, and its commitment to promoting human rights,” added WECDSB superintendent of education Mike Seguin, who has been helping organize the local tour. “We felt their message was far too important to limit to just a one-day visit, and we wanted as many of our students as possible to participate in this amazing experience.”

For further information on the Tour for Humanity, visit http://tourforhumanity.com/