Tomorrow I’m heading off to Israel, not the most popular holiday destination at the moment, but here’s why I’m going…
You might not know it, but I’m a Regional Ambassador for the Holocaust Educational Trust, a charity dedicated to teaching Lessons From Auschwitz and making sure that society is able to learn from the atrocities that happened throughout the Holocaust, World War 2, recent genocides and how we can learn from history and remember the Holocaust.
So my journey with the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET) started way back when I was 16, and studying history for my A Levels. I was selected to go on the Lessons From Auschwitz trip, with other schools from the south east, to learn from the past. We were lucky enough to go on the trip with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and the Chief Rabbi, John Sacks – it was an incredibly moving experience and I was asked to do a reading at a memorial ceremony. Words can’t really describe what it’s like to go to Auschwitz, nor what it’s like to go with two religious leaders in the UK. You just can’t put down on paper what it’s like to be on the landscape where hundreds of thousands of people were massacred, for nothing. Their stories lost forever, their families torn apart, all their hopes and dreams just gone in an instant.
The following months were a whirlwind of information, debates and talks about our experience. The Lessons From Auschwitz program didn’t start or finish with the trip and it wasn’t the only one to happen. Numerous trips are held throughout the year, and are grouped together regionally. Before you head off, you’re prepped and have debates about what you think you’re going to experience. When you’re back, you’re debriefed, with talks and discussions about what you actually experienced and your biggest takeaways, so that you can change the way people understand the Holocaust.
How did this result in me going to Israel?
Well, my journey didn’t stop there. I felt so moved and privileged by the experience, I knew I wanted to do more and help people to open their eyes about how they can help others and truly make a difference. So, I got some work experience with HET to see how I could help out.
Little did I know that this was the beginning of something much bigger.
Shortly after my internship finished, I was invited to the Houses of Commons to attend a parliamentary reception for Ambassador members. Following that I was asked to go to the annual Council for Christian and Jews (CCJ) meeting at Lambeth Palace, to discuss what we learnt and how we can have hope for the future alongside Rowan Williams and John Sacks.
It was after this that I knew I wanted to make more of a difference.
So I did, I applied to be one and was successful enough to don the title and what an honour it is. The role includes helping regional communities to learn more about the Holocaust, we as a global community we can stop the same atrocities from ever happening again.
6 years later and I’m still at it. I’ve been to the Ambassador’s Conference in Westminster, attended parliamentary receptions and have spoken to some of the few remaining Auschwitz survivors. It has been an incredible journey of learning, understanding and reflecting on recent history. What we learn from HET isn’t just about the Holocaust, it’s about our global responsibility to help one another, to stop genocides together and to make sure that the Holocaust is never forgotten.
So, that’s how I ended up being asked to go on a trip to Israel and more importantly, that’s why I wanted to go, because I want to know how I can help.
Interested in reading more? Check out this blog I wrote about the Y Word In Football.