Regional Ambassador Day, Thursday 21st February 2013

The Holocaust Educational Trust have just appointed 24 Regional Ambassadors, covering different areas in England, Scotland and Wales. I myself currently represent the West Midlands. This is the first time this particular type of team has been selected, and so it is very much still a project that is finding its feet. Therefore, the Trust decided upon a day for all of us to meet each other and share ideas, hopes and concerns regarding the next year. Around 20 of the 24 Ambassadors were able to attend the day, held at the Jewish Museum in London. Some people had travelled from as far as Aberdeen to be there!

The day began with a quick introduction to the Trust and its work. All Ambassadors are familiar with the 'Lessons from Auschwitz' Project, each of us having previously completed it, so details were given on programmes and educational resources for schools and teachers.
The next part focused on defining the Holocaust. This is by no means a straightforward task; we discussed many problems facing one single definition. Should we keep all those groups that were persecuted separated by name, or does that further highlight their differences? What might be the cultural differences when defining the Holocaust? What does the word 'Holocaust' even truly mean, and were we talking about the Holocaust or a Holocaust, when considering other genocides? The talk was rather philosophical, and even the language used in definitions was scrutinised. It is a conversation that could go on all day, but alas, we only had 50 minutes in which to cover it.

After a short break, we heard the testimony of one survivor, the lovely Janine Webber. Janine's experience is different to many survivors that we hear from in that, fortunately, she was never imprisoned in a concentration camp. Born in Lvov, Poland (now Lviv, Ukraine) in 1932, Janine and her family were sent to the town's ghetto. She managed to escape and lived out the rest of the war in hiding, either in the houses of Polish farmers and priests or working as a maid, at the tender age of 11. Sadly, she lost both her parents, her grandmother and her brother during those years. Janine's story is truly incredible, and she has suffered so much, but she is still able to smile. You can read more about her story here.

The afternoon saw a lunch break followed by a presentation on the Chief Executive of the Trust, Karen Pollock, on the profile of the Trust and why it is so important. She explained the negotiations that took place with the Football Association last year, when the England team heard from two survivors and visited Auschwitz whilst in Krakow for Euro 2012. She shared advice on how to gain positive attention for events and what successful events contain.
Later, discussions focusing on the year ahead were held. We broke off into small groups to talk about events we hope to organise some time in the near future, and the problems that we may face in each. Finally, we gave ideas as to what the Trust and Regional Ambassadors could do over the next year.

The day was a fantastic one; it was so great to meet other people who are as enthusiastic about the Trust and their work as I am, and I look forward to working with them in the future.
The Trust have also provided a quick report on the day on their website.