We are currently living times of war, insecurity, rising antisemitism and intolerance during a migration crisis that the world has not seen since WWII. In order not to repeat the same errors of the past, young people need to understand parallel circumstances in history and how each one of us is responsible for contributing to the future, to establishing peace in the world, and to promoting human rights. This Elie Wiesel Study Tour will provide students with the opportunity to understand the political, social and cultural forces that created the Holocaust, to see first hand the horrors of Auschwitz, and to increase participant comprehension of non-democratic regimes. Throughout this process and through reflective exercises led by the program’s coordinators, students will gain a greater appreciation for democratic values, for the significance of open and responsible government, and for the merits of increasing diversity and open-mindedness in each of our communities.
During the Elie Wiesel Study Tour, students will receive advanced reading material on the Holocaust, totalitarian regimes, and the Communist period in Romania; they will then have the chance to learn about the effects of Communism in Romania by visiting the Sighet Memorial, the Memorial of the Victims of Communism and of the Resistance; and they will visit Auschwitz and Birkenau, learning about the destruction of Jews and other groups targeted for elimination by the Nazi regime. Throughout each stage of this learning experience, students will be guided by specialists in these fields and will be engaged in activities to engender reflection on the past and how this can be applied to the future.
After the study tour, and under the supervision of the program coordinator, all participants will be involved in initiating dissemination activities in their home communities. Activities will be various and will include public presentations, organized discussions with their peers and/or teachers, and the writing of articles for newspapers, school magazines, and university journals.
Who can participate?
The Elie Wiesel study tour Explore the past. Shape the future! is addressed to high school and university students aged 18-25, from all across Romania, studying in all domains, enrolled in high school and/or university, with knowledge on the Holocaust and Communism, and a strong motivation to study more on these topics. Eligible applications should also demonstrate a strong interest in better understanding critical days in our past in order to positively influence the days of tomorrow.
Applicants must be at least 18 and maximum 25 on the first Study Tour day (July 21st; applicants are eligible if they turn 26 during the program but they are not eligible if they turn 18 later than July 21st).
Students interested to apply for the study tour must show a significant interest in subjects such as the Holocaust and the Communist era in Romania, while demonstrating a willingness to organize dissemination activities for their colleagues after the program is complete.
If you are eligible and wish to participate, fill in your application here. Selection will be made based on the quality and complexity of your answers, your interest in the program, your dissemination plans, level of English and knowledge towards the topic. Applications will be evaluated by a team of recruiters from the US Embassy in Bucharest & American Councils. All applicants will be notified of their status by June 25th, the latest.
The organizing team
Carter Johnson, American Councils Regional Director
Carter Johnson will provide senior oversight and guidance to program staff of Elie Wiesel Study Tour. Dr.Johnson has over 10 years’ experience managing field operations and youth programs across a wide variety of countries and thematic areas.
Eliza Chirilă, American Councils Romania Country Representative
Eliza Chirilă will lead project development and provide operational oversight of Elie Wiesel Study Tour. Ms. Chirilă has worked on youth affairs for several years, having previously been a Youth Delegate to the United Nations and president of the Romanian-American University (RAU) Students Councils, RAU Senate and Board Member, and Vice-President of the National Students Union (USR). Ms. Chirilă is active in the civil society community, involved in the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Bucharest Hub, programs involving student transition to the workforce, and other areas of social economic development.
Ramona Omet – Study Tour Coordinator
Ramona Omet will be the Study Tour Coordinator. For over 10 years, Ms.Omet has been involved in project activities to promote human rights, democratic values, and public policies in support of youth affairs. Ms.Omet has contributed to the development of the Center for Human Rights and Migration, the National Moot Court Competition on Human Rights, and the Refugees and Migrants Rights project in partnership with UNHCR. Since 2014, she has been a Program Coordinator at the European Center for Legal Education and Research. Ms.Omet holds a Master’s degree in Business Law, and is a graduate of the School of Law, School of Orthodox Theology, and School of Management-Marketing.
The student group will be accompanied, throughout the tour, by a teacher with strong general background in history, especially on the Holocaust. The teachers will offer extra information to participants, create discussions with them and help them better understand the knowledge they gain during the study tour. Participants will also watch films and read books related to the themes, and these will followed by reflective group discussions.
You have time by June 11 to fill in your application and send it to us. In order to apply for this program you need to answers to at least 4 questions out of the 6 below, in English. Submit the online application, send it to us and we will take care of the rest.
* The answer limit is of maximum 25 rows per question. Questions are to be answered in English
The 6 questions are:
1. How would you approach the history of the Holocaust in Romania – as part of the history of the Jewish community or as part of the national history? Please explain your choice. *
2. Which of the following aspects of the history of the Holocaust are of interest to you: 1. Victims; 2. Perpetrators; 3. Means of persecution and extermination; 4. Memory and social representations? Please elaborate. *
3. Point out and briefly discuss the main arguments used by the Romanian authorities to motivate the deportation of the Roma to Transnistria?*
4. What lesson(s) do you think the history of the Holocaust offers to contemporary society? *
5. What differences/ similarities could you find between the Holocaust and other traumatic phenomena of the 20th century history? *
6. How are you planning to use/ integrate the knowledge acquired during the study tour in your activity?*