In Ontario, a Canadian classroom is preparing to facilitate a global conversation about the Holocaust — on Twitter.
On Thursday, Nov. 10, class 62 of the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board is inviting Twitter users around the world to “share thoughts on peace, war, WWII, or the holocaust,” explains grade 6 teacher Heidi Siwak on her blog. “Share links, songs, poems, artwork, blogs anything!”
The discussion is inspired by the book "Hana’s Suitcase," written by Canadian radio producer Karen Levine, which tells the story of Japanese educator Fumiko Ishioka. As reported by JTA in 2003 and 2006, Ishioka was inspired to learn and teach about the Holocaust after coming across a mysterious artifact:
Japanese Educator Recounts Quest to Unpack Story of ‘Hana’s Suitcase’ (Published: Nov. 10, 2006)By Dina Kraft
TEL AVIV, Nov. 7 (JTA) – Fumiko Ishioka carefully opened a large, cardboard box mailed to her in Tokyo from the Auschwitz museum in Poland. Among the contents were a child’s shoe, a can that once contained Zyklon B poison gas and a worn, brown suitcase with white letters painted on its side that read: "Hanna Brady, born May 16, 1931." Who was this young girl, wondered Ishioka, who at the time had been setting up an exhibit on children and the Holocaust at a small museum called the Tokyo Holocaust Center.
The book, coupled with Ishioka’s extensive outreach, has previously inspired other students to create multimedia works, including letters, music , and audio interviews posted to a website dedicated to the Brady family.
Ms. Siwak’s students have spent considerable time planning for the event, including contingency plans in case party-crashers on Twitter cuss, spam or express pro-Nazi sentiments during the conversation.
On an oversized sheet of easel paper, Ms. Siwak’s students braced themselves for another scenario that might be out of their control: lack of participation. The JTA Archive blog hopes that this exposure will help bring in some quality participation from our Twitter-savvy readers.
Twitter users who contribute to the conversation are asked to used the following hashtag (a keyword preceded by a “#” sign used to index quotes on Twitter): #hana62. Participants are also invited to add themselves to a Google map.