Darwin High School Humanities teacher, Liam Phillips, was selected for the 2017 Gandel Holocaust Studies Program for Australian Educators. Just one of only 35 teachers from around Australia to be selected, Liam received a fully funded scholarship to attend Holocaust education training at the Yad Vashem Centre for Holocaust Studies in Jerusalem, Israel.
In January of 2017, Liam flew to Israel for a three weeks intensive workshop. The program examined and investigated the many facets of Holocaust education and Liam had the unique opportunity to learn from, and interact with, leading historians and renowned experts on the Holocaust, as well as meeting survivors.
Pictured above is Darwin High School teacher Liam Phillips with Holocaust survivor Eva Rac-Lavi and Nadia Phillips.
The program works to ensure Holocaust education stays relevant and is kept at the forefront of appropriate education programs in Australia. Alumni of the program have an expectation to pass on their knowledge not only to their students, but other educators as well – so our whole school community will benefit from Liam’s participation.
Liam tells of his Israel experience below.
In August of 2016 I was lucky enough to be selected to take part in the Gandel Holocaust Study Program for Australian Educators. I was selected from hundreds of applicants to receive a fully-sponsored scholarship to study Holocaust education in Jerusalem in January of 2017.
The course itself was held at Yad Vashem – Israel’s official monument to the Holocaust. The site, situated on Mount Herzl, comprises extensive monuments and memorials, a museum and art gallery and a vast education and resource centre. It was here that I spent nearly three weeks with fellow educators from around Australia, learning about many facets of Jewish culture and history, both ancient and contemporary.
The emphasis of the program however was on Holocaust education, and how this can be taught through Yad Vashem’s philosophy of “safely in, safely out”. Yad Vashem is careful to stay true to the adage of “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it”, but ensures that modern education techniques and approaches are utilised in delivering the subject – which is challenging and confronting.
I was incredibly fortunate to meet and engage with some truly exceptional people whilst on the program: leading experts on the Holocaust, Jewish history, literature and art, Nobel Peace Prize nominees, world-renowned Archaeologists, Holocaust survivors – including Eva Rac-Lavi, who was number 201 on Schindler’s List and whom we had the honour of meeting at Oscar Schindler’s grave, and inspiring educators from all over the world. Being able to liaise and converse with other teachers from many and varied backgrounds and educational contexts was also invaluable.
Away from the classroom, we were shown the many wonderful and beautiful sites of Israel – the ruins of the palace of Masada, the northern frontier of the Golan Heights where we were able to gaze into Lebanon and Syria, the ancient tunnels under the Western Wall, the old quarters of Jerusalem, Crusader castles and the modern streets of Tel Aviv. We swam (floated) in the Dead Sea, witnessed Shabbat evening prayer in the Great Synagogue, viewed the Dead Sea Scrolls and ate copious amounts of delicious falafel and shawarma.
I left Israel having had my world-view challenged, changed and expanded. The millennia of history concentrated in such a small and beautiful part of the world was awe-inspiring, and the immersive experience of in-depth Holocaust education was humbling and deeply moving. It is an experience I hope to be able to pass on to students and staff not only here at DHS, but in the wider Territory Education sector as well.
My place on the program was fully paid for by Gandel Philanthropy, a Melbourne based philanthropic organisation, whose generosity ensures Australian educators such as myself are given the opportunity to be at the forefront of contemporary Holocaust education and research.