Interviewer: Jeremy Garsha
Interviewee: JB, Junior in Casey Roberts’ U.S. History class
Prepared by Jeremy Garsha, 5/27/03
This was an interview conducted with a high school student that had heard Nina
speak last year, and had also read part of Nina’s letter out loud. The subject
was a highly motivated female student. It was based on a preformulated
list of questions.
The interview took approximately 15 minutes to conduct, and about 2 hours to transcribe.
On June 4, 2003 Jeremy conducted a post-interview with JB.
J: I work up at UCSB, I working with the professor that came down when
Nina was talking last year… Dr. Marcuse. We focus on German history, but we
are mostly interested in how history is taught and how students learn history.
So I have come down here to try and get a high school prospective on all that.
Does that make sense?
J: To break the ice, I’d like to ask you some word associations… I’ll say a word and you just tell me the image that appears, or whatever first comes to your head.
JB: Okay, yeah. Sounds good.
J: So… "Germany."
JB: Germany…a big country.
JB: Nazi…people killing other people.
JB: Hitler…the leader
J: when I say SS/Gestapo, does that sound familiar?
JB: No…kind of, but no.
J: "Concentration Camps"
JB: People all skinny and dying.
JB: [blank expression, no response]
J: that’s okay. "Holocaust."
JB: [quietly]…just a bunch of dead people.
J: How about "refugees"?
JB: I don’t know.
J: "Children and war"
JB: Babies crying for their parents.
J: and "Victims," when you hear "Victims" what do you think?
JB: I think of the people who died and people who survived. [It is very interesting how she included survivors as victims]
J: Okay. So you were in Modern World last year?
JB: uh huh.
J: What did you guys do in that class?
JB: Well, I wasn’t there at the beginning of the year, I changed schools, but the last part that I came for was just basically focusing on Germany and the Holocaust, and Nina came.
J: Okay, did you guys read Night in his class?
JB: Yeah, but I wasn’t there.
J: You weren’t there for Night, so you didn’t take part in any of those projects?
JB: [shakes head]
J: No, you didn’t. Okay. Have you covered, did you cover World War II at your other school?
JB: um huh.
J: And what class was that, that covered World War II.
JB: It was Modern World, just at another school.
J: And what was the school that you used to go to?
JB: Oak[??????] High Valley School
J: What do you remember about that course?
J: What did you guys go over?
JB: There we did a lot of bookwork…and we would watch a lot of movies—and I liked that because it would be a lot of visual stuff. And we did some projects?
J: What kind of projects?
JB: We had to pick a "Time Person of the Year" from back then and write about them, why we liked them and stuff. I think over there…you pick a section from (something we covered) and you’d have to write about it.
J: Have you read any Holocaust books? You never read Night, but did you read the Diary of Anne Frank, for another class?
JB: Yeah, I read that.
J: Did you read that on your own, or was it for a class.
JB: I read it on my own. My parents made me do it.
J: Was there anything else you read, or was it just Anne Frank?
JB: Just Anne Frank.
J: Have you ever gone to any Holocaust museums?
JB: Yeah, I went to the one in LA.
J: The Museum of Tolerance?
JB: Yeah. And then I went to the house where Anne Frank lived…or hid-out in.
J: Okay…so you’ve been to…where was that, Holland?
JB: Yeah, Holland.
J: So did you do like a European trip then?
J: Did you see any other sites while you were there?
JB: No, we didn’t really go out to Germany.
J: Is your family from Europe?
JB: No, they just like to travel.
J: Wow. That’s awesome. Okay, so at the LA Museum of Tolerance…what do you still remember…well first, what age were you when you went there?
JB: I think I was in seventh grade.
J: Was it a school trip?
JB: Yeah, it was school trip. I remember that a lot of people already there, and they were all emotional about it, but I really didn’t know that much about it or what it was…But I remember we watched a video, a short video about people…and then they told us, "if you’ve ever been a hypocrite go in this door, and if you haven’t than go in this (other) door." And we all ended up in the gas chamber…and they had a thing which read something about the color of your hair and eyes, they’d kill you no matter what…or something.
J: Were there any Holocaust survivors there at the time.
JB: Not that I remember.
J: That’s okay. I can I ask you, do you watch the History Channel at all?
J: What do you watch, when you watch the History Channel?
JB: Usually it’s on medical stuff.
J: Medical stuff? Is that what you are interested in?
JB: No. My brother and I always watch TV together.
J: Do you ever watch A&E, or any documentaries on television?
JB: I watch a few, but none of them related to..
J: What were they on?
JB: I watched one on the history of Malcolm X…and then…one of Dr. King, and all that stuff.
J: Okay. Have you seen any World War II movies?
JB: I think so.
J: Like…um…Pearl Harbor?
JB: Yeah, I’ve seen Pearl Harbor, and isn’t there another one to?
J: Maybe…Saving Private Ryan?
JB: Yeah, I saw that too.
J: What did you think of that one?
JB: I thought it was good, but it was when I was younger, so I was like eww..
J: a little gory?
J: How about Schindler’s List, did you ever see that?
JB: I saw parts of it.
J: Did you see parts of it own your own, or was it in class.
JB: On my own.
J: Why just parts?
JB: Because my parents were watching it, and I kept walking in.
J: Did you ever see Life is Beautiful?
J: It’s like an Italian film, kind of a comedy, but..
JB: [shakes head no]
J: I just wanted to make sure, because a lot of people don’t know the name of it, but they have seen it. Okay. Let’s talk about when Nina came then. You were in Mr. Robert’s class for that?
JB: Yeah, I was reading the first part, her introduction.
J: You actually read part of her letter (to the class) then?
J: What do you still remember about her letter?
JB: I remember thinking that she didn’t really go through the hard part, because she always thought of ways around it…like she went to the post office, or something? And how she was talking to a Nazi on the train, but they didn’t realize she was Jewish.
J: What did you think about how they had student’s read the letter rather than Nina?
JB: I liked that because then we actually listened…and sometimes it is hard to understand her with her accent. So, at least we got most of it.
J: Did you guys get a chance to read the letter before Nina came in, or did you just read it when she was there?
JB: I read it before she came because I had it, but I think everyone else just listened to it.
J: Tell me about that. Did you volunteer to read it?
J: And then Casey (Roberts) gave you a copy of it a day before, or two days before?
JB: Yeah, and he was like, "this is the section that you’ll be reading."
J: Okay. Do you think it would have been more helpful to have Nina talk to the kids more than she did?
J: maybe rather than have you guys read it?
JB: umm… not really because it is so hard to understand her. And I think just having her there impacts it even more. And I thought it was helpful how she would answer all our questions.
J: Do you remember any of Nina’s reactions while the other students were reading?
JB: Yeah…during some parts… I think when she was separated from her family, she got pretty sad, and she put her head down and didn’t say much during that section—like before she would help us with words—but throughout that one part she was real quite and just sat there.
J: Okay, do you remember any other details from last year? What sticks with you?
JB: I remember what she looked like and stuff. And I remember her talking about being separated from her family…and how she felt when she was next to the guy on the train or whatever. And when she came back and kind of felt like the American’s were just like ignoring her, and that she felt we weren’t going to do anything all…and that we didn’t care…since we were in isolation at that time.
J: Okay. I think we are pretty much done; I just want to ask you if you have any plans for after you graduate high school?
JB: Kind of. I want to teach…probably history.
J: So you are interested in history now?
J: Why is that?
JB: I don’t know. I used to hate it, but Mr. Roberts is such a good teacher…you actually learn stuff. Plus, it’s kind of cool because we repeat mistakes, and you know how they say if you learn it then you won’t. So it’s cool to figure out that "oh, this happened then, but it’s also happening now."
J: Do you think that you would want to teach on a high school level?
J: So do you have any plans on where you’d like to go to college?
JB: No. I just want to stay close.
J: So maybe UCSB?
J: Do you have a desire to take history classes? Learn more about history in school?
JB: Yeah, I think I want to focus on World War I and World War II, just because they are interesting and don’t seem that far away.
J: Okay. Do you have any questions you want to ask me?
J: Okay. Nina is going to come after Memorial Day, and talk to the Modern World classes, so if you are interested, you can come.
J: So we’ll tell Mr. Roberts and he can tell you guys.
J: Sound good?
J: Okay, I’ll walk back with you.
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