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FR 199: France and the Holocaust in Film and Literature
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Alice Lin

Liberal Arts Major(s): French and Francophone Studies
Other Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Hometown: State College, Pennsylvania

What was the best part of your experience?

The best part of my experience was being able to enrich my understanding of France and the Holocaust and its effects both at the time and in the present day through numerous discussions on topics such as antisemitism, collaboration, and the preservation of memory. It was a particular privilege to meet with two inspiring Holocaust survivors, Ginette Kolinka and Esther Senot, and hear their moving stories.

Going abroad and learning in the context of my studies helped me to truly get a sense of the preservation of Holocaust memories and commemoration of Holocaust victims in contemporary France

How did this experience impact you academically?

Going abroad and learning in the context of my studies helped me to truly get a sense of the preservation of Holocaust memories and commemoration of Holocaust victims in contemporary France. Although many hard facts about the Holocaust have already been documented in textbooks and historical archives, what quickly came to interest me were French views and attitudes towards the Holocaust today. It was interesting to visit and analyze plaques and monuments around the city dedicated to the Holocaust, as well as learn about the current state of antisemitism in France by talking to tour guides and Holocaust experts.

How will this experience impact your career goals?

The Holocaust left all too many scars on survivors, families, and communities, whose perspectives, experiences, and memories I strived to learn, understand, and honor during this course. This experience thus strengthened my compassion, taught me the importance of tolerance, and allowed me to connect with people who have suffered hardships that I have never experienced. I intend to carry these life skills and lessons with me as I pursue my career goal of becoming a doctor, and I hope that they will help me provide quality care to my future patients.

How has the Paterno Fellows Program had an impact on this experience?

Paterno Fellows enabled me to enrich my learning with a real life experience that gave subjects I learned about in class a physical, tangible dimension. For example, no film or textbook about the Drancy internment camp could have evoked the same emotions I felt while physically standing at the entrance of the complex that trapped approximately 70,000 mostly Jewish prisoners during the Holocaust. With the support of this program, I was able to connect to my studies on a more personal level and engage in interactive scholarship that classroom activities could never fully reproduce.

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