December 30, 2005

Volunteers Distinguished

The ”Wallenberg at School” educational program marked its fourth year since it was instated.

To close the year’s intense cycle of activities, the team of volunteers working for the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation met on December 28th at the premises of the institution to make a toast. Silvia Stisman and Rodrigo Rendo, coordinators of the ”Wallenberg at School” Educational Program, expressed their gratitude to the team of volunteers, particularly to Mr. Thomas Kertesz, a survivor of the Holocaust whose life was saved by Raoul Wallenberg.

During the meeting, Silvia Stisman and Rodrigo Rendo presented diplomas to each of the members of the educational group and to the writers and translators working on the Foundation’s website. ”Volunteers are those who make initiatives grow”, stated both Rendo and Stisman.

The volunteers distinguished were Jorge Kearne, Dario Kogan, Guillermina Robles, Miriam Kesler, Katie Kertesz, Thomas Kertesz, Raquel Stisman, Alicia Bronstein, Susana Caramelo, Raquel Donato, Hugo Tonello, Alejandro Neufellner, Carola Listre, Cristina Mendez, Egon Strauss, Enrique Borst, Florencia Askenasy, Florencia Gersberg, Jorgelina Paula Mackey, Josefina Prytyka de Duschatzky, Julio Bepre, Karol Przybylowicz, Lara Schujovitzky, Marcela de Marino, Maria Lia Macchi, Maria Pensavalle, Maria Silvia Quagliotti, Maria Victoria Favia, Moises Almela Sánchez, Pablo Freinkel, Maria Pia Riccombeni, Soledad Castro Virasoro, Victoria Bembibre, Gabriela Gomez del Rio Martin, and Patricio Cavalli.

To this group should be added other volunteers who work in the United States, Israel, Germany, Peru, Venezuela, Uruguay, Spain, China and England.
On their part, the volunteers expressed their gratitude to all members of the staff and the Board of Directors of the institution, particularly to Baruch Tenembaum, Natalio Wengrower, Nicholas Tozer and Jean Pierre Bendahan, for their support and the academic freedom granted in the setting up of the new educational guidelines.

”Wallenberg at School”

The ”Wallenberg at School” educational program started in the year 2002, amid the social and economic crises affecting Argentina in those times. Since then, dozens of volunteers specializing in educational sciences have cooperated in the design of pedagogical tools and audiovisual materials used to create a conscience as to the need to exercise values such as solidarity and civic courage, which are the behavioral bases of the Holocaust Saviors. Their objective is to establish a working link with students at high school level to build up an area devoted to the culture and the spreading of the fundamental values to help in the development of a pluralistic and democratic society.

In the year 2003, thanks to the auspices of the Education Department of the Government of the City of Buenos Aires, the program was introduced among students attending medium level colleges in the City of Buenos Aires. Since 2002, the program has been carried out in 13 schools located in the Capital and the city’s surrounding areas, and was attended by over 2,300 students.
In 2003 the program was sponsored by the Buenos Aires City Government, whereas in 2004 the Association of Private Educational Entities of Argentina (ADEPRA) awarded the Wallenberg Foundation the ”2004 Prize for Excellence” for the services rendered to the community through this educational program.

The program is designed on the basis of didactic activities that comprise a lecture followed by a cycle of group work with the students coordinated and carried out by volunteers from the Foundation. The volunteers who work on this program are persons who specialize in the area of education.

This initiative is aimed at students enrolled in the upper courses of high schools, who will soon enter the labor market or else undertake university studies, which will in turn enable them to commit themselves to a wider range of responsibilities.

For this reason, the program stresses the importance of memory, civic responsibility and the defense of universal human rights, promoting among the young the value of these assets in order to achieve a peaceful and harmonic development of relationships among persons as well as among institutions and nations, which leads to a clearer understanding of modern and recent history.

Each presentation is centered on the need to spread information on the life and activities of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved in Hungary dozens of thousands of Jews and other persons threatened by the Nazi regime during the Second World War. This serves to introduce an example to be followed in order to develop the subject of the human rights and the role it plays nowadays, establishing at the same time similarities with the contents of the curricula pertaining to the last years of secondary schools. All this with reference to the features of the current situation in Argentina and as a complement to the contents of other subjects taught at elementary and high school levels. This is particularly applicable to subjects such as ”Technologies of Information and Communications”, ”History”, ”Contemporary and Esthetic Cultures” which are incorporated into the various curricula of high schools , and ”Sociology” and ”Economics” in those schools oriented towards specialization in Human and Social Sciences. This topic becomes more adequate for this school level, as it is intended to foster research and reflection on the students’ side.

Thus, the heroic deeds of people whose motivating strength was and is solidarity, generosity and respect for man’s dignity, is used as the example and guidelines that must be maintained not only under dictatorships and authoritarian governments but also as symbols of democratic virtues it is desirable to show as example.

Over 50 volunteers have taken part in the presentation of this program, among them renowned intellectuals Marcos Aguinis, Jose Ignacio Garcia Hamilton and Nicholas Tozer, as well as other personalities. Furthermore, two of the persons saved in 1944 by Raoul Wallenberg participate in these activities, namely Laszlo Ladanyi and Thomas Kertesz.

Educational Raoul Wallenberg Centers

The Raoul Wallenberg Foundation permanently co-operates with a variety of resources and media towards the setting up and maintenance of educational centers, in an endless endeavor to improve the quality of life within the community. This activity enables a series of Educational Centers to operate in Argentina, Uruguay, Ecuador, Venezuela and Brazil.

In Argentina:

  • Community and Educational Raoul Wallenberg Center in the La Juanita in the quarter of Gregorio de Laferrere, province of Buenos Aires. This school belongs to the organization of unemployed workers of the La Matanza district.
    Two kindergarten rooms and productive undertakings such as a bakery, a serigraphy workshop, an editorial house, a dressmaker shop and an arts and crafts school operate within this educational complex.
  • Kindergarten ”Raoul Wallenberg” room at School Nr. 943, located in the city of La Plata, province of Buenos Aires.

In Uruguay:

  • Lyceum Nr. 53 ”Raoul Wallenberg”, located at Gaviyú Street and Regiment Nr. 9 (eastern branch).

In Ecuador:

  • Bilingual Garden School Raoul Wallenberg, located at 5 de Junio corner of Sucre streets, Babahoyo – Los Rios, Ecuador.

In Venezuela:

  • Pre-school Educational Raoul Wallenberg Unit, located in Catia, Caracas.
    This Center was inaugurated in 2002 sponsored by the IRWF, with the aim of assisting in the full development of children coming from impoverished homes of this area of Caracas, and offers the services of pediatricians and dentists, as well as lessons in the field of informatics and the practice of sports.

In Brazil:

  • Raoul Wallenberg Center for Integral Education, located in Curitiba, Brazil.

Planning of program to be undertaken by the education committee of the ”Wallenberg at School” educational project.

  • Updating and production of working material pertaining to the Foundation.
  • Updating and search for new pedagogic material that may be useful for students who attend the lectures.
  • Research and classification of pedagogic and didactic material with a view to editing it so it may be used as additional bibliographic material to be distributed during lectures and delivered to volunteers who cooperate in the execution of the program, as well as teaching staff.
  • Production of new material with articles related to concepts such as civic courage, solidarity, and so on.
  • Spread of information concerning the life of Raoul Wallenberg among the community and volunteers.

Work with Volunteers

  • Biweekly meetings to discuss updates and reforms to be introduced into the educational project, and plan the activities to be undertaken in schools during the school term.
  • Institutional relations with educational centers where the educational program is to be implemented.
  • Meeting with the executive boards of the educational area who oversee secondary schools, Heads of school districts and school directors, to set up dates, schools and courses related to the programmed activities.
  • Follow-up work among students of Technical School number 12 to supply them with material so that they are in a position to teach children from a slump quarter (Villa 31) in the neighborhood of Retiro.

Translation: Josefina Prytyka