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General Talking and Discussion Points

Students today may feel very far removed from the Holocaust. Not only is it something that happened outside of their life time, but unfortunately, the chance of learning from people who experience the Holocaust first-hand is decreasing. Talk to students about why Holocaust remembrance and awareness is so important. Have them relate it to their own experiences of carrying on legacies within their own families. Why is it important to pass on these stories?

One of the prevailing themes of "Determined" is hope. Hope and perseverance amidst total devastation and loss is what helped Martin to survive the horrors he experienced. In what ways do hope and perseverance play a role in the everyday lives of our students? Discuss how resilience plays a role in this difficult time of transition from high school to college.

Faculty can also review the resource guide for more information.

In-Class Activities

Break students up into small groups and have them discuss the article(s) they read and how they relate to the themes explored in "Determined". Encourage students to go beyond summarizing the articles. Is there a connection between the issues that affect Martin in his book and the issues that created the need for these organizations and programs? How are the ideas discussed in this course central to the work the students read about? Why is it important to read about and be informed of these kinds of organizations? What if a student isn’t personally affected by an issue these organizations address? Why should they care?

In addition, discuss the Washington Post article Two-thirds of Millennials Don’t Know What Auschwitz is. Ask students why they think there is such a lack of awareness and knowledge about the Holocaust amongst the younger generations in the United States. Discuss why this lack of awareness needs to be combatted, and what they can do to educate themselves and others, including reading and listening to stories from survivors like Martin.


Activities for Teaching

Response Cards

  • Give each student an index card. Ask them to briefly write down their questions, thoughts, comments, etc. and have them turn in their cards for discussion.

 Group Discussions

  • Have students pair up or get in small groups to talk about the book, the current topics review in class, and how it relates to their current experiences as a student at FIU.

 Word Clouds

  • Have students submit key words describing their thoughts on the book and talk about the most reoccurring words. (students can use Poll Everywhere for this activity)

 Teach the Class

  • Pick a theme(s) or historical event relating to the common reading book and have students teach their peers about themes in the book. (perseverance, hope, holocaust awareness and education)

 Journal Writing

  • At the beginning of every new chapter, have students jot down a few lines of their experiences at FIU and how they might relate to Martin’s story.

Topic Breakdown of The Course

  • Course introduction & Intro to Common Reading

    Show video on "Determined".

    As a means to introduce students to each other and to the course material lead a 5-10 minute discussion reviewing the book. The discussion can be general impressions the students had of the book, and then introduce how the text can relate to the topics discussed in the course.

  • Mental Health

    In the introduction to "Determined", as well as towards the end of the book, Martin discusses the impacts of the Holocaust on his own mental health as well as that of other survivors. He says that for his generation, seeking out psychological counseling or acknowledging post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as legitimate and real was very unlikely due to the stigmatization and lack of awareness at the time. Discuss with students the importance of ending the stigma around mental health/mental illness, as well as some of the resources offered at FIU such as Counseling and Psychology Services (CAPS) and Victim Empowerment Program that they should not be afraid or ashamed to use to help them cope and stay mentally healthy.

  • Time and Stress Management

    Martin had to deal with almost constant stress throughout his imprisonment in the Holocaust- the stress of where his next meal would come from, if at all, the stress of whether or not his family members were alive, the stress to just survive both physically and mentally. Discuss with students how Martin managed his stress (such as the positive mantras he repeated- Live for today, hope for tomorrow, try not to think of the past, p. 44), and ask them to provide similar examples of ways they can cope with stress.

  • Book Related Discussions

    Review articles, in-class activities, and general talking/discussion points section.

  • Life Skills wrap up and academic advising presentation

    After being separated from his family, Martin had to acquire and sharpen his life skills at an early age in order to survive on his own. Discuss with students what life skills Martin used to survive and persevere, and if there are similar life skills, they can use in their daily lives throughout their four years of college and beyond.

  • Creativity

    A few times, Martin's creativity and ability to think on his feet made the difference between life and death for him. For example, when Martin was selected for the gas chambers at Auschwitz, he escaped and hid in a tiny oven until it was safe to come back out again. Discuss with students how thinking creatively can help them both in challenging situations as well as in their everyday life in college.

  • Collaboration

    Martin had to work together with others, such as his friend Kiva, many times throughout the Holocaust in order to ensure survival. Have students discuss on how teamwork and collaboration is necessary to their success, both in college and beyond.

  • Design Thinking

    How can design thinking be used by organizations and programs promoting Holocaust awareness, education and remembrance?

  • Opportunity activity

    Martin takes his experiences as a survivor of the Holocaust and turns them into an opportunity to spread education and awareness. In the introduction, he says, "For as long as I am able, I will make the pilgrimage each spring to remember and to bear witness to participate in The March of the Living. There is no better way to educate people than hearing survivor stories firsthand I see it as an opportunity to teach what humans are capable of doing to their fellow human beings."

    Discuss with students how they can draw on their personal experiences to create opportunities in their own lives.

  • Course Wrap Up & Evaluation

    Martin has devoted his entire life to educating others. He is passionate about sharing his experience, even though it is difficult for him, because he realizes the importance of remembrance and education. It is his legacy. Have students reflect on what they are passionate about and how these passions can play into their future, and even their time here at FIU. Encourage them to seek out involvement opportunities on campus related to their interests and passions.