Generous gifts from Upper Canada College friends and family members will enable a lucky IB1 student to take part in a Holocaust education trip to Poland and Austria next month.
“I ran the Holocaust education trip in 2014 and there were a number of students who expressed interest but whose parents couldn’t fund the trip,” says English teacher Rachel Metalin, who came up with the idea of creating a bursary to pay all of the expenses of a student who wanted to go next year but didn’t have the means.
Annette Metz-Pivnick, the mother of Old Boy Sam Pivnick, volunteered to help raise money. About $6,000 was collected, which will be enough to cover the student’s trip. Metalin has had assistance from UCC’s advancement and finance departments, particularly director of development Sarah Robertson, and she’s hopeful that an endowed fund can be established so there’s money available to pay for similar trips in the future.
The bursary is named in honour of Ethel Eisen, who was killed in the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp along with almost all of her family members during the Second World War. The only survivor was her teenaged son Max, who has since spent many hours volunteering at UCC, telling his story, answering questions, and helping the College community understand the impact of the Holocaust.
Eisen and fellow Holocaust survivor Bill Glied, both of whom testified at the trial of Nazi prison guard Oskar Groning and contributed to the now 94-year-old man receiving a four-year sentence, were interviewed by Metalin about guilt and accountability at a Nov. 9 UCC assembly. Metalin also used the opportunity to reveal the name of The Ethel Eisen Bursary.
“It always really gets to me when I think about Max and his mother, so I named the bursary after her,” says Metalin. “He was really moved by that.”
The assembly had a major impact on most in attendance, perhaps none more so one of the bursary applicants asked to write a 500-word essay on why he was interested in participating in the Holocaust education trip.
“Hearing the survivors made him realize that he really needed to learn more about this subject and how it applies to people who are marginalized,” says Metalin of the essay that helped clinch the student’s receipt of the bursary. “His curiosity and passion to learn were what really stood out.”
Metalin, her father Sam, Prep math teacher Bob Cooper and bursary donor Jennifer Houston will lead 11 students on the trip, which takes place from March 12 to 23. It will include visits to several sites in Poland and Austria, including synagogues, cemeteries, museums, extermination and labour camps.