MCCC Holocaust center a source for teachers, students and community

Holocaust survivor Vera Goodkin’s presentation April 9 is only one of many uses for the Holocaust/Genocide Resource Center at Mercer County Community College.

The center is one of 24 throughout the state, and is run by the Advisory Board Commission. Professor Elizabeth DeGiorgio, who teaches education and psychology classes at MCCC, also serves as the local director of the center, orchestrating events and coordinating the use of the space for students, teachers and lecturers.

Among the center’s numerous resources are books, DVDs and film collections relating to the holocaust, genocide, intolerance and other related subjects. Varied displays are also featured during the year; currently a photography exhibit depicts several Holocaust survivors from New Jersey, including Goodkin.

The curriculum at the center ranges from Kindergarten through high school level, and meets the mandated requirements for all public schools in the state.

One of the benefits of the center, DeGiorgio said, is its relevance across disciplines. While the Holocaust is its own subject of study, many of the materials also address studies in psychology, education and sociology; relate to social issues like tolerance and war; and even depict art, photography and design.

Holocaust resources can also be used in teaching anti-bullying, DeGiorgio noted.

“Anti-bullying has its own specific materials and content areas, but you can use genocide and the holocaust as a link to foster these positions that encourage anti-bullying,” she said.

The common misconception of the center, she noted, is that it is primarily a resource for teachers. Both teachers and students are able to access the materials at the center, and the space is also available for teachers to host class or show a film.

The most frequent use for the center has been a number of varied presentations. Goodkin was one of many Holocaust survivors to speak of a personal experience at the center. Another presentation featured recipes from the Holocaust Survivor cookbook. The recipes in the book were prepared by culinary arts professor Frank Benowitz, and survivor’s stories were read by DeGiorgio and some of the MCCC students.

When it first opened at MCCC, the center had initially been located in the library on campus. Yet the expanding volume of resources and the attendance for presentations had maxed out the space, and four years ago, the center was moved to the second floor of the student center.

For more information about the center, go online to mccc.edu/holocaust.

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