During this semester for one of my social work courses, the class had the option of going to the Jewish Community on the east side of Providence to hear the testimony of a woman who lived in Germany during the Holocaust. I wasn't going to go because I didn't need to but I figured it would be a great second event for Youth Development.
I made the right choice! I loved visiting the Jewish Community Center because I learned so much, and surprisingly related a lot to the topic as well! The lady who was speaking was named Ruth, and she explained her journey through the Holocaust and how it impacted her. She stated general stuff that we all knew, like how the Jews were mistreated, and they had to hide out, which is terrible but not new to me. For my core four at Rhode Island College I took the Holocaust and other Genocides as a course, so it seemed like a recap. As Ruth continued she talked about her journey to the United States. She spoke about her style of dressing, the food she ate, and how it all felt out of place. Ruth spoke about show she was embarrassed about her parents speaking their native language because it made it obvious they where in the United States as refugees. Ruth spoke about how today she is still effected by the Holocaust, because she has hatred and fear. She is scared about having to deal with that again. She gets upset wondering why more help wasn't offered. Ruth spoke so powerfully, it made me think and humble myself to the things I have and the things I didn't have to go through.
RELATED TO YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
During the conversation, I asked Ruth if she had after school programs, social workers, or anything of that sort to help her go through this, and she said "no." She was grateful she was in the United States, away from the Holocaust and that was enough for her and her family. Although this is great that she was happy, I know that she could have benefited from youth services during her youth years, as she came here to the USA at age 12. While hearing Ruth's story it made me realize, she doesn't stand alone. As youth workers we need to realize, the Holocaust might have been extreme and the children we work with might not have gone through this event, but some have experiences similarities. A lot of African immigrates left countries like Libra because of war, and they are going though difficulties as well. This event was extremely powerful to me, because it made me look outside the box. This was a 80+ white woman who seemed like she had it made, but there is so much behind her. This applies to everyone. I am more aware now that students literally come to the United States from all over, especially in urban cities, and our services can truly made a difference. Ruth mentioned still today in her 80's she thinks about the events that changed her life, and always will, and this can be true for anybody. We might not be able to take pain away, or erase thoughts from peoples heads, but we can make living life earlier, and a lot less stressful.