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Dialogue MA Placement Week 1: Holocaust Memorial Day

Tue, 21 Feb 2012 12:23 in Articles
Volkan Akdag Share

23rd - 26th January

London is a city of millions. The traffic is busy, the metro and busses are packed. It is not like this the whole day long, there are peaks, but it is hardly comparable to a city like Rotterdam (my town of employment) or Zwolle (my town of birth). Although it has its busy moments too, Zwolle is a quiet city with 120,000 inhabitants. Rotterdam is a bigger city with more excitement than Zwolle with a population of approximately 617,000. So, it is still nowhere near as big as London.

I have however observed some similarities between London and Istanbul such as the crowded places and the busy public transport. Of course I’m sure that there may be more similarities that I will discover during my ten weeks in London whilst completing my internship at the Dialogue Society and look forward to exploring them.

As part of our MA placement we have been asked to write our reflections, taking notes of our experiences on a daily basis. For this week’s diary entry I would like to talk about an event I attended. This was the Holocaust Memorial day at Islington Town Hall ( I want to write about this because I have noticed that it touched me. I was expecting to see a great number of elderly people attend; however to my amazement there were a lot of children from several schools from around the neighborhood too. I was positively surprised.

The speakers of the evening were Judith Fox, Kemal Pervanic and Christine Blower. The stories of Judith Fox and Kemal Pervanic were really emotional. The story of Christine Blower was short but also important. All of the speeches were related to violence, racism, discrimination, human rights violations and bullying. Let me share some background information about the speakers.

Judith Fox is a social researcher, an economist and analyst of the construction industry. She talked that day about the Second World War and how it affected her life and the life of her Jewish family. After her presentation Kemal Pervanic shared his story. He is a survivor of the notorious Omarska concentration camp, which was built during the Bosnian War. He explained the detailed executions and troubles that they experienced during that difficult time. At first I wondered whether his story was too troubling for the children that attended. Can the children bear this kind of information?

Another important observation I made was that there was a lot of diversity among the children. This experience has provided me with the enthusiasm and motivation needed to support and embrace dialogue once again. I emphasize ‘again’ because I was already embracing dialogue but the Holocaust memorial trip confirmed and strengthened my thoughts about how dialogue help eradicate prejudices in a society. The dialogue which I witnessed among the diverse youth was a reflection of the first steps towards reciprocal dialogue between the generations to come in the future.

*The ideas expressed in this column are solely the opinions of the author and not necessarily of the Dialogue Society

About Volkan AkdagBrowse Author's Arhive

Volkan is currently completing a 10 week internship at the Dialogue Society as part of his Dialogue Studies MA at Keele University. Volkan is a graduate from the University of Applied Sciences, and holds a BA in Communication.