Thursday, September 15, 2016
Volunteer Profile: Imogen Wilkins, 2016
What attracted you to the AJC?
I find it important to commemorate and remember the destruction of the Nazi crimes and at the same time link this to being active today against anti-Semitism, racism, and other forms of discrimination. The Auschwitz Jewish Center does both—on the one hand it educates about Jewish life in Oświęcim before, during, and after the Second World War; it also provides anti-discrimination trainings and hosts events on current issues such as the situation of refugees in Europe today. This combination is what makes this place so interesting for me.
What are you enjoying most about your volunteer experience? Most of all I enjoy giving tours to visitors—every group is different and nearly always interesting questions are asked and knowledge is shared. Spending my time at Café Bergson and working with such a great team have made this year a very special experience for me.
How has volunteering affected you? I have learned a lot about Judaism and Jewish life in Oświęcim and have gained experience in teaching about them and making them accessible for school groups. I have also become more interested in Polish history and understanding a different perspective on history and the collective memory in this country.
What is one thing you'd like others to know about the AJC or think people don't know? Few people know of the town Oświęcim and if they do it is probably the last place one associates with Jewish life. However, before the war the majority of this town was Jewish; there were close to 30 houses of prayer and a vibrant and diverse Jewish community existed. I think it is very important that the history and the lives of these people are not forgotten.