A message of Courage

By Southern Riverina News

Finley High School students recently listened to powerful messages of courage and injustice through a travelling exhibition about the Holocaust visiting Shepparton.

The Courage to Care exhibition features interactive multimedia learning, providing examples of ordinary people known as the Righteous Among the Nations — non-Jews who took great risks to save Jews during the Holocaust — and the heroes of other genocides whose courage saved lives.

Organisation vice-chairman Les Kausman said the exhibition allowed the students to learn about the consequences of unfettered racism, prejudice, bullying and bystander behaviour.

‘‘The students heard from Holocaust survivors ... I always tell them (students) they are very blessed to hear from someone who was there,’’ Mr Kausman said.

Opening with a short film, Mr Kausman said hidden messages inspired the students to respect history.

‘‘The messages are: the future’s in your hands; if you see something wrong, stand up just like these heroes,’’ he said.

‘‘We provide a life-changing experience for young people, the evaluations and follow-ups show that; and the impact we have on teachers is even greater than what we have on the students.’’

Finley High School teacher Tom McCarney, who organised the trip to Shepparton, said the experience was humbling for his students.

‘‘The students heard from Judy, an 84 year old survivor who was five years-old in 1939 when the war started.

‘‘Some of the things she spoke about resonated with the students and even the less fortunate kids realised how lucky they are.

‘‘The students do study the Holocaust but not until next year, however the main focus of the exhibit was actually spreading an anti-bullying anti-hate message.

‘‘The facilitators used the Holocaust to highlight the point ’that bad things happen when good people do nothing’ and contextualised it for kids today. Be an ‘upstander’ not a ‘bystander’ was one of the key messages.

‘‘The highlight was definitely hearing a first person account from Judy. It was almost surreal to hear from someone who was actually there and the way she spoke was not bitter or resentful, rather grateful. This was incredible.’’