I am deeply in love with writing. Whether it’s creating stories, presenting research or responding to literature, I love to write. When my teacher at Oasis, Mrs. Poznanter, told me about an annual writing contest, I was overjoyed!
Chapman University in the city of Orange has an annual art and writing contest for all high schools and middle schools about the Holocaust. The process for gathering writing and art ideas has a specific procedure. Each participator must watch a testimonial video about a Holocaust survivor. Certain Web sites are filled with recorded videos and only one must be chosen to be reflected in the student’s work.
Every story from survivors warms the listener’s heart, broke it and inspired it. Faces of the survivors echoed grave and brokenhearted images when remembering life in a concentration camp. The writing prompt this year was memory and meaning. After watching a three hour long video, the writer must construct their work by integrating the survivor’s story within their own. Only two submissions were made from Oasis and none from Fallbrook High. All those who have talents in art and writing gave up an honorable opportunity.
On March 5, I went to Chapman University for the awards ceremony. After we arrived at Chapman University, my teacher, my grandmother and I toured the great Chapman Holocaust Library. Pictures filled showcases and overflowed with the work from past winners of the contest. Books, false ID cards, baby shoes, clothing with the Jewish star symbol, love notes and pictures recreated the genocidal past in the small museum.
Next, we gathered in the colossal auditorium for the actual awards ceremony. Survivors spoke encouraging words to the overflowing theater. The winners were announced and honored for their amazing works. Survivors living in this area today cried tears of joy when a student wrote about them. One shocking fact that a speaker mentioned to the congregation of students was that we might be the last generation to meet these survivors and pass down their stories.
I am so grateful to my teacher for presenting this contest to me. I learned so much as I wrote a passionate essay about a survivor named Ruth Brand. I listened to numerous testimonies and found that besides all the despair, sacrifice, loss, death and hatred that love and hope still existed within the Jews.
Next year I look forward to entering in the art division under photography. I hope that other students as well will enter the contest to understand and to connect with the Holocaust’s meaning and lessons.
My trip to Chapman for the 11th Annual Holocaust Art and Writing Contest will never be forgotten and is a journey every high school and middle school student should go on.