Reflecting on the elections…

My last two blogs posts were about Eva Kor and meeting her in Corpus Christi. Stick with me on this post to see how they are connected.

 

In light of the political climate, I have been reflecting a lot on how people interact with each other. I’ve watched a lot of news stories, read a variety of news articles, talked to family members, coworkers, friends, and acquaintances. I’ve read facebook posts and facebook comments.  I followed twitter conversations and news article comments. All of those have taken me down a path of reflection–that reflection relates to Eva Kor and also relates to the book the leadership team on my campus is reading (How to Create a Culture of Achievement in your school and classroom).

Relationships and words are crucial to us as people. In casual conversations, heated debates, confrontational arguments, working with students and with teachers, the art of teaching, giving presentations, writing news articles, commenting on facebook posts, retweeting and quoting tweets–IN ALL OF THESE, the words you choose can take a person from feeling like they can achieve their dreams at the top of the highest mountain to the bottom of a deep, dark pit within seconds.  We set the tone. We must be mindful and have good intentions when interacting with each other.  Language is very powerful in building growth mindsets, impacting teaching, growing as individuals, and changing student achievement. We need to teach students how to talk to one another not just at one another.  We need to work on finding means to contribute to solutions and not just contributing to the problem.  The power of your words can shape learning!  

So back to Eva Kor, here’s a bit of her story:

Eva Mozes Kor was only ten years old when she was taken to Auschwitz. She lost sight of her parents and two older sisters within minutes of stepping off the train onto the platform at Auschwitz. Her parents and two older sisters were taken to the gas chamber. Eva and her twin, Miriam, were sent to the man known as the Angel of Death: Doctor Joseph Mengele.  She and Miriam survived his medical testing.

Her survival is amazing. Her life lessons are beyond moving, and her forgiveness is extraordinary. The life lessons she shared with us in Corpus summed up:

Lesson #1:

Never ever give up on your dreams.

Lesson #2:

Rid the world of prejudice.

Lesson #3:

Forgive the Nazis.

How do you feel about these lessons?  Do they apply to your teaching? Your learning? Your mindset? Your political views?  Can we achieve Lesson #2 in the United States?  I know we can try.

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More Life Lessons from Eva Kor

I posted last about attending TCSS in Corpus and having the opportunity to meet Eva Kor, a survivor of Auschwitz.  Since then, I have submitted the paperwork and have 30 students signed up to participate in a book study over her book and a SKYPE session with her! I’m am very excited about this.  We had over 30 students sign up, but the museum only allows 30 so we had to go based on time stamp of registering online. I’ve talked to a few students already and they are very excited to get started.

So on to her next life lessons that she shared with us in Corpus.

Life lesson 2 was about Prejudice. She said that it always hurts the victim and talked about how societies that permit it to happen are destroyed by it.

“It is the cancer of the human soul.” 

She went on to discuss how it is her obligation to not have prejudice. That everyone has an obligation to not have it.  For example, she talked about how students should wear uniforms as they go to school only to improve their minds! Not to impress others.

“You must judge people on their merits.”

Life Lesson 3 was the one I found the most humbling. Her life lesson #3 is:

“Forgive the Nazis.”

Wow. How amazing is her forgiveness and grace?? She talked awhile about forgiveness and I was mesmerized by her every word. I wanted to remember it exactly. I typed it as fast as I could in the notes on my iPhone (yeah, I know, I should have just recorded her, but I wasn’t thinking about that at the time).

“You have the power to forgive. No one can give it to you and no one can take it away. As long as you have someone you are angry with, you are still a victim. Forgiveness is a feeling of wholeness. It is freeing. It works. It has no side effects.”

Are you amazed yet? You can find a lot more information about her with a simple google search, or by reading her book!

I started this blog as part of the #IMMOOC.  I didn’t really follow the assigned blog prompts each week, but I was grateful for the ideas shared by others and the opportunity to challenge myself to reflect and write.  As I reflect on Mrs. Kor, her life, her message, and all the amazing ideas from the #IMMOOC, I think about innovation and society.  How far have we come as a society in education?  In helping others? In ridding the world of prejudice?  In creating, growing, learning, reflecting, and becoming innovative??
In the current political climate, it is really HARD to see positives. A lot of negativity has come out in our society/culture/world.  Can we all take a minute to pause and think about Eva’s message?  I hope I can follow her life lessons in all things that I do in life.  Do you?

One last thing to leave you with from Mrs. Kor:

“What if we created a project where a million tweets are sent to stop the killing and create a safe zone in Syria? Imagine that. The power of the internet is amazing.  This is why I tweet. It is easy. You can be clever. You can be bold. You can make a difference.”

Life Lessons from Eva Kor, Lesson #1

I was granted the amazing opportunity to attend and present at the Texas Council for Social Studies Conference in Corpus Christi (a full reflection post will be coming soon). While there, one of the sessions I attended was hosted by Eva Mozes Kor.

I cannot even begin to describe the wisdom, patience, and grace of this amazing woman. She and her twin sister lost their entire family at Auschwitz and had to endure terrible conditions and medical testing at the hands of the Nazis and Dr. Mengele.  She has spent an amazing amount of her time, energy, and effort on building a Candles Holocaust Museum in Terre Haute, Indiana as well as traveling to educate others of the Holocaust and really to educate the world on grace and forgiveness.

She was witty, kind, motivating, and inspiring.

In her presentation today, she told her story and then told us some life lessons she has learned.

Lesson 1: Never give up on your dreams.

“Growing up is very hard. Even if you live in the U.S. Even if you have wealthy parents. Even if your parents buy you designer jeans with holes in them. ”

She continued on talking about how life is hard because you have to find your place. Where do you fit in this big world? What are you meant to accomplish? If you give up, you’ll never find your place.

“If you keep trying, it is absolutely amazing what your mind can come up with.”

eva-quote1

Lesson #2 and #3 coming next post!

Are you being the best YOU that you can be?

–Celaina