One of the most important lessons to come out of the unforgettable events of the Holocaust is to forgive, but never to forget. As time goes by and events seem distant, the importance of teaching the lessons of the Holocaust to future generations becomes increasingly critical. College of Saint Elizabeth history major Samantha Insetta,’13, is doing just this during her internship at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, a Living Memorial to the Holocaust, in New York City.
As one of only 18 college students chosen nation-wide as a semester-long Lipper intern, she joins students from across the Northeast from institutions such as Yale and Princeton. The Lipper interns are sponsored by the Gruss Lipper Foundation for the purpose of teaching public middle and high school students in their college communities about Jewish history and the Holocaust through a series of classroom visits and museum tours. Approximately five CSE students have already interned here and have built a great reputation for the College at the museum.
Insetta’s commitment to the internship was never more evident than when she was applying, a process she completed during Superstorm Sandy. “I had to turn in my application during the blackout. Dr. Harriet Sepinwall (co-director of the CSE Holocaust Education Resource Center) helped me so much. She did not have power, so she actually went to other people’s houses to call me and talk me through the process. When I called the museum and mentioned Dr. Sepinwall, they automatically recognized her name.”
Insetta credits the course, History of the Holocaust, taught by Dr. Sepinwall, which she took during her junior spring semester, for preparing her for the internship. “A lot of the information that they asked me was covered in my class. I was glad I took it because it gave me a great background.”
Once she received word that her application was accepted, the real work began. Insetta went to New York City for eight days of rigorous training, which consisted of meeting with staff members and Holocaust survivors in order to learn about Jewish history, artifacts, anti-Semitism, and even had a training session on Judaism. At night for two hours with the other interns, she studied readings provided by the museum and did homework. They learned how to give a tour and how to teach the lessons.
Insetta recently finished teaching her first group of students, a seventh grade language arts class, at Clinton Middle School in Clinton, N.J. She led the students in a discussion-based lesson on the history of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism. Days later, these students traveled to the Museum of Jewish Heritage for a tour. “The greatest challenge is to make the information relevant to the students. But it’s so rewarding when they retain that information and can recall it,” Insetta explains. She returned to the school to conduct a wrap-lesson as a review of what the students learned and the importance of standing up to social injustice. “The students learn what they can do to prevent something like this from happening and that even one person can make a difference,” says Insetta.
Insetta’s Future Plans Include Graduate School
Insetta plans to attend graduate school for her master’s in library science after she graduates this May. In the meantime, she has another enormous responsibility as an advocate for the internship program. The interns hold recruitment sessions to get other students involved. “We want to get the word out there for this program. We are guardians of the survivors’ stories, and it’s important that people know about the program so that they can do their part too.”