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 SRU schedules weeklong Holocaust Rembrance Program 

 

SPOTLIGHT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 26, 2008

Contact: K.E. Schwab  

724.738.2199

 karl.schwab@sru.edu

 

 

SRU schedules weeklong Holocaust Remembrance Program

 

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University is expanding its traditional Holocaust Remembrance Program to an entire week in order to accommodate a growing number of presentations. The week will offer a series of lectures and films that remind the community about how fragile human rights can be.

            Two people directly affected by mass murders, a Holocaust and concentration camp survivor, and a politically active Swarthmore College student who lost more than 100 members of her family at the hands of Rwandan rebels, will speak. The week will also include two films.

            The Emmy Award-winning film "From Pittsburgh to Poland" opens the week at 7 p.m. April 7 in Spotts World Culture Building.

            The film follows Holocaust survivors and teachers from Pittsburgh as they visit Auschwitz-Birkenau and other Holocaust-related sites and tell their personal stories. The film features Sara Reichman who was reunited with the Polish family that saved her from the Nazis. "The film has been shown on PBS and is well worth seeing to gain context for our Holocaust speaker," said Richard Martin, SRU political science professor and program organizer.

            At 4 p.m. April 8 Jack Sittsamer will present the University's annual Holocaust Remembrance address in Miller Auditorium. His address is titled "The Story of Jack Sittsamer: Holocaust Survivor of Six Nazi Concentration Camps."

            Sittsamer, born Dec. 30, 1924, in Mielec, Poland, was interred in camps in Mielec and Wieliczka, Poland; Flossenberg, Germany; Leitmeritz, Czechoslovakia; and Mauthausen and Gussyn II, Austria. During the ordeal, he lost his parents, two brothers and two sisters, becoming the sole survivor in his immediate family.  

            His story appears in the collection of local survivor testimonies found in "Flares of Memory: Stories of Childhood During the Holocaust." The book was published in 2001 by Oxford University. Sittsamer's personal story was the inspiration behind the play "Mazel" written by Amy Hartman from a commission by the Holocaust Center of the United Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh. The work premiered in Pittsburgh last November.

            At 7 p.m. April 9 the film "Darfur: A 21st Century Genocide" will be screened in Spotts World Culture Building. The video covers the Darfur genocide origins and offers background for and address by Stephanie Nyombayire detailing the Darfur genocide at 4 p.m. April 10 in Miller Auditorium.

            Nyombayire, 21 and a senior political science major at Swarthmore, was eight years old and living in the Congo during the Rwandan genocide. She lost 100 relatives in that tragedy. 

            To help combat the genocide, Nyombayire and six friends launched the Genocide Intervention Network. The group has raised $1.5 million to support peacekeeping troops in the region, including $250,000 for armed escorts for women at risk of being raped when leaving the humanitarian camp.

            Last year, Nyombayire was featured in Glamour magazine as one of the top 10 college women in America. She was also honored by Jeannette Kagame, Rwanda's first lady, as a "Young Rwandan Woman Achiever" as part of an Imbuto Foundation program that encourages innovation and hard work among Rwandan women. The foundation also rewards young women who have shown exceptional resilience to develop themselves and others. Nyombayire was specifically cited for her GI-Net work.

            Nyombayire, a native of Kigali, Rwanda, recalls first learning of the mass killings while living in the Congo and being told her grandparents had been murdered. She immediately knew she wanted to do something to combat the fighting and said the world must say, "Never again." She has repeatedly spread word of the crisis, saying, "Taking action tells the world every human life is worth something."

            In addition to her activism, Nyombayire has also reported on the Darfur crisis from the Chad-Sudan border for MTV. She introduced former President Bill Clinton at a national Campus Progress conference in 2005. Nyombayire traveled to Darfurian refugee camps in Chad in 2005 after being denied entry to Sudan. Her trip, along with fellow students from Georgetown and Boston universities, was documented in the film "Translating Genocide," which premiered on MTV.

            Nyombayire' visit was arranged by Donald Kerchis, assistant professor of political science. 

           The SRU visit is sponsored by the political science department, the College of Business, Information and Social Science and the campus chapter of Amnesty International.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.

 

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