United Nations & USC Shoah Foundation Institute to Debut IWitness

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New Online Educational Resource Showcases Video Testimonies of Holocaust Eyewitnesses

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More than 350 New York metropolitan area high school students will gather at United Nations Headquarters on 23 January 2011 to discuss their experiences with IWitness, the USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s new online educational resource that provides teachers and students access to the video testimonies of more than 1,000 Holocaust eyewitnesses from the Institute’s archive of nearly 52,000 testimonies.

Organized by the United Nations Department of Public Information, in partnership with the Shoah Foundation Institute at the University of Southern California (USC), the event will be held from 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. in Conference Room 2 of the Temporary North Lawn Building. The students will relate the lessons learnt from interacting with the videos and have the opportunity to personally interview Holocaust survivor Roman Kent, whose testimony they have studied as part of IWitness.

“As students learn more about the Holocaust and the significance of this history today, they will soon discover its connection to their own lives and communities,” said Kiyo Akasaka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information.

The event is cosponsored by the United States Mission to the United Nations, and held in observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The theme of the week of events to be held at the United Nations is “Children and the Holocaust.”

“Through IWitness, survivors will not only continue to teach students about the Holocaust and inspire them to act against intolerance; they will also help empower young learners to develop the literacies they need to excel in a world being transformed by information technology and new media,” Stephen D. Smith, USC Shoah Foundation Institute Executive Director, said. “On behalf of the Institute, I thank the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme for partnering with us on this event, giving us this opportunity to raise awareness of IWitness in honor of the International Day of Commemoration, as well as the local students who have used the resource and will share their experiences with us. Most of all, we offer our gratitude to Roman Kent and the nearly 52,000 other witnesses of the Holocaust who have entrusted their memories to the Institute as a guiding light for all humanity.”

Established in 1994 by Steven Spielberg to collect and preserve testimonies of survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust, the USC Shoah Foundation Institute maintains one of the largest video digital libraries in the world: nearly 52,000 video testimonies in 32 languages and from 56 countries.

Part of the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences at USC, the Institute works within the University and with partners worldwide to advance scholarship and research, provide resources for educators, and disseminate the testimonies for educational purposes. In addition to preserving the testimonies in its archive, the Institute works with partner organizations to expand the archive with accounts of survivors and witnesses of other genocides. For more information: dornsife.usc.edu/vhi

With resolution 60/7, the General Assembly established the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme in 2006 to further education about and remembrance of the Holocaust so as to help prevent future genocide. Its multifaceted programme includes online and print educational products, seminars, a film series and the worldwide observance of the International Day of Commemoration held each 27 January. The programme works closely with survivors to help ensure that their stories are heard and heeded as a warning of the consequence of anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination. For more information about the programme, please visit http://www.un.org/holocaustremembrance. For media accreditation, please visit http://www.un.org/media/accreditation, call (212) 963-6937 or write to malu(at)un(dot)org.

Contact: Kimberly Mann, Manager, the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme at (212) 963-6835, mann(at)un(dot)org

Anne Marie Stein, Communications, USC Shoah Foundation Institute at (510) 893-3271 x109, annemarie(at)oneprstudio(dot)com

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