Richard Gair, professor of Holocaust studies and reading

Rich_smallRichard Gair used his Abe and Tess Wise Endowed Chair in the Study of the Shoah this year to travel to Poland, an important part of his Holocaust studies.

The title for his project is “Discovering Fragments of Jewish Life in Poland,” and it was Professor Gair’s intent to spend nearly three weeks in that country, spending his time talking with local historians, officials and museum staff.

“I also toured four Nazi death camps, studying and photographing them,” Professor Gair says. The towns on his travel agenda were Lodz, Chmielnik, Auschwitz, Rzeszow and Lublin. “In each location I made day trips to the sites and smaller villages.” Moreover, he explored the archives in places like Auschwitz.

The purpose of his stay? To visit, study and photograph key sites of Nazi persecution, ghettos and Nazi death camps, and to study and photograph fragments of Jewish life that once existed in Poland to deepen his understanding of that time. He also planned to examine the archives and exhibits at Auschwitz-Birkeneau to enhance his teaching and to help him plan future study abroad trips to the camps.RichardGair

He met with local historians to learn first-hand about the lives of Jews in the towns, and—perhaps most importantly, he deepened his scholarship to enrich all his Holocaust knowledge and teaching. The trip added a new perspective to what he understands about Jewish life in Poland then. It will also help him to add new components to future study abroad trips he leads.

As Professor Gair visits these places, he’ll be adding a wealth of new knowledge and experience to his professional background as a Holocaust educator and representative for Valencia in his role as a member of the Florida State Task Force on Holocaust Education. The photographs, videos and knowledge will all be infused into his classroom teaching of his Holocaust course, as well as his annual Holocaust study abroad trip.

Students have told me that when I can integrate my own experiences visiting, studying at the sites we study, it adds a level of authenticity to my teaching,” Gair says.  The pictures and videos from the trip will be shared in class, along with interviews he conducts with a historian or others. “By showing students the remnants of Jewish life, as small as they may be, they will further appreciate the magnitude of the Holocaust and its effect on a culture that has vanished.”

Videos from his trip can be found at https://vimeo.com/album/3516403

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: