National Writing Project

Nebraska Kids Turn Despair to Hope

Publication: York News-Times
Date: December 5, 2008

Summary: Students at McCool High School have benefited from a Holocaust Literature class, offered at the school for the first time by Danielle Bethune, one of 20 teachers nationwide chosen by NWP's Rural Sites Network to attend the Memorial Library Summer Seminar on Holocaust Education in New York City.

 

Excerpt from Article

At the summer seminar, Mrs. Bethune seized the opportunity to establish a learning network with other teachers, and now she is turning learning into action. Her class is collaborating with students from Pennsylvania, Idaho, Kentucky and New York on something they call the Sunflower Project.

Mrs. Bethune's class has read a book called "The Sunflower," written by Holocaust survivor Simon Weisenthal. While still a concentration camp prisoner, Weisenthal was brought to the bedside of a dying Nazi SS trooper. The Nazi was haunted by his participation in genocidal atrocities and sought forgiveness from a Jew. At the time, Weisenthal could not bring himself to bestow it. Through the book, written years later, he forces the reader to consider with him the difficulties of forgiveness. The sunflower becomes a symbol of forgiveness.

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