Narrative by Emily Crowley, June 5, 2002
On May 28, 2002 Nina Morecki visited Carpinteria High School to tell her story to Casey Roberts eleventh grade Advanced Placement History class. She was accompanied by her friend, and fellow Holocaust survivor, Perla. Perla did not relate her story to the class, but was joining Nina for support. At 9:45 a.m. Mr. Roberts welcomed the class and introduced Nina. The class was prepared to hear her story and had been asked on advance to think of some questions they wanted to ask Nina. The classroom is covered in student-made posters about Elie Wiesels book, Night. Most of the students had read the book either last year in the tenth grade, or last month, so they had some background in the Holocaust and the testimony of survivors. Mr. Roberts also had a map of Europe hanging in the front of the room and pointed out Lvov, Poland, Ninas town, to the students.
Four students were chosen ahead of time to read Ninas letter aloud while she sat and listened. Nina wrote the letter in September of 1998 to "the young people of the world," as her effort to make sure that nothing like what happened to her, would happen again. It took about one hour for the students to complete the letter. Nina listened carefully as her story was being read, and reacted to several parts where she seemed to be reliving certain moments. She even began to tear up when one student read the portion of the story in which she remembers her family alive and wishes and dreams they were still alive and she could talk to them. Throughout parts of the letter reading, some of the students seem to be getting bored and fidgety. They probably would have preferred to hear Nina tell her story in her own words and own voice. Alexis, one of the oral history project students, videotaped about half of the letter reading.
Once the students finished reading the letter, Mr. Roberts let them get up and stretch. This was followed by a question and answer session. The students were fairly reluctant to ask any questions, especially at first. The first question had to be asked by the teaching assistant. This engaged the students in the activity a little bit more. One student asked Nina how she felt when she first came to America. Nina walked right over to her and answered the question directly. She said that she was unhappy about coming to America at first because she wanted to go to Palestine instead. Also she had received her traveling papers but her husband had not and she did not want to go without him. Students became much more alert at this point in the class, and seemed to be eager to hear what she had to say. Most of the students questions related to Ninas life after the war and how her faith in God had been affected. Nina answered candidly and welcomed the probing questions. Surprisingly, the students did not ask her any specific questions about the war or the camps. Alexis taped most of the question and answer portion.
After the class period ended, the students were dismissed for lunch. At this time we (the 199RA students) regrouped and discussed how things had gone. Mr. Roberts took Nina and Perla to eat lunch. Alexis, Kristin, Nate and I decided this would be a good time to interview some of the students to get their immediate reactions to the event. We interviewed three girls and taped the conversation. After the lunch period, we interviewed two more girls who had been in class. This conversation was also taped. The overall consensus of the students we interviewed was that Ninas visit was very valuable to their learning process, and that hearing historical witnesses is the best way to understand history.