While many people spent the evening of Thursday, Oct. 31 shepherding children around seeking sweets, the Holocaust Commission sent its representatives to Roanoke for a different kind of solicitation. Elena Baum, Commission director and Mickey Held, former chair headed west to share the commission’s now two-year-old flagship program, What We Carry, with the Virginia State Conference of Social Studies Educators.
Since its debut, approximately 7,600 people have seen a presentation of What We Carry, and another 1,500 have seen the full-length films at one of the local or Los Angeles showings.
With all four vintage suitcases on display, the two commission leaders held 25 to 30 educators enthralled with the stories of four Hampton Roads survivors. Those assembled learned how the program came about, viewed the nine-minute trailer showing parts of each story, and got a “mini-presentation” of one of the stories in their short 45-minute session. They were thrilled with the possibility of being able to bring this locally produced program to schools and communities across the state.
The reception was enthusiastic. In preparation for a “travelling program,” the commission had their talented artist, Perry Deglandon, create a second set of suitcases to go with the What We Carry films. They are now able to still bring the stories to local schools, military bases, and community groups with trained commission docents, while also “exporting” this successful educational program across the state.
“There have already been several requests from teachers in other communities,” says Baum. “We are excited to see the growth of this amazing program.”