The aim of the Gathering the Voices project is to gather testimonies from Holocaust survivors who have made their home in Scotland and to make these testimonies available on the World Wide Web. The project commenced in 2012, and a key outcome of the project is to educate current and future generations about the resilience of these survivors. Volunteers from the Jewish community are collaborating with staff and undergraduate students in Glasgow Caledonian University in developing innovative approaches to engage with school children. These multimedia approaches are essential, as future generations will be unable to interact in person with Holocaust survivors. By students being active participants in the project, they will learn more about the Holocaust and recognize the relevance of these testimonies in today’s society.
Although some of the survivors have been interviewed about their journeys in fleeing from the Nazi atrocities, for all of the interviewees, this is the first time that they have been asked about their lives once they arrived in the United Kingdom. The interviews have also focused on citizenship and integration into society. The project is not yet completed, and an evaluation will be taking place to measure the effectiveness of the project in communicating its message to the public.
The rationale for involving students in university, as well as school pupils is that although pupils in primary and secondary education in Scotland learn about the Holocaust through formal education, education on the subject of the Holocaust in higher education remains primarily in the domain of history and social science. This project offers a means of introducing knowledge of both the Holocaust itself and aspects of the refugee experience as integral parts of students’ learning experience in other subjects. The stories of the survivors illustrate that refugees can become major contributors to society and citizenship. By demonstrating these contributions to society, the lesson can be learned that refugees are worthy citizens in their own right and should not be viewed as being merely dependents on the host country.
The Gathering the Voices project is using blended learning approaches to engage with the general public and, more specifically, young adults and children of school age. Its website enables teachers to link sections easily to the school curriculum. The website contains digitized oral testimonies of Holocaust survivors in Scotland. To ensure accessibility, all of the interviews have been transcribed, and these transcriptions have also been placed on the website pages. The interviews have been divided into sections, and paragraphs have been numbered, as this allows teachers to easily identify the relevant sections for their pupils.
The outcome that will be the focus of this paper is the description of two projects in which students working in interdisciplinary teams, in the disciplines of digital media and design within the School of Engineering, Built and Environment, have contributed to the aims of the GtV project. By involving students from this School in the project, the intention was two-fold: firstly for the students to produce innovative ideas that will appeal to contemporary young learners and, secondly, for the students themselves to learn about the Holocaust from accessing the testimonies on the Gathering the Voices website.