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Testimonial page about our February 2008 trip.

We guided 46 students of the New York Eastchester High School through Germany and Poland and the award they received April 10 2008.
Speech of Jonathan Levy on behalf of the group during the Ceremony.

This is an excerpt of the email we received from Edye Caine, Social Studies Dept. Chair :

The kids are still talking about the trip and the impact that it and you (Cor Suijk) have had on their lives! 
I must admit, I find myself reflecting back daily and working hard to live my life differently...
one day at a time! 

I wanted to share a very exciting award being presented to the students,
parents and faculty who went on the trip with you...
"February 2008, dear Dr. Terranova, We are pleased to announce the:"

of the tour
click here
 APRIL 10, 2008  AD








will be presented to the entire group of students, faculty and parents
during the Commemoration ceremonies
in the form of a bronze descriptive commemorative plaque
listing the names of all participants. (February 2008)

of the tour
click here

Jonathan Levy, made a speech representing our group.

Power to Inspire

     Today one hears so much about people not caring, of being apathetic, self-focused and avoiding social responsibilities. My generation in particular, is singled out for this criticism. And, to be honest, I believe much of the criticism is true. Many of us are fearful of entering adulthood in a world which is at war, in which the economy is crumbling and in which the environment is over-heating.

The pressure to get into a “good” college simply increases this sense of apprehension. It often seems that your entire twelve years in school are just one test merging into another, all for the sake of compiling a grade point average high enough to win for our parents the “cherished” prize of a sticker for their back car windows announcing that their son or daughter has been accepted into a prominent university.

Not only has the love of learning been lost in the battle for grades, but so has a larger perspective on life. Helping the homeless and the less fortunate, becoming involved in the political system, volunteering to make your community a better place to live often seem to be of interest only if it will help us get into a good college.

Performing acts of charity and community service seem to get lost in our busy everyday schedules. Yet, it should not be this way. People, and especially my generation, hunger for something better. We wish to recapture the idealism of previous generations who marched on Washington with Martin Luther King Jr. to tear down the barriers of racism, volunteered throughout the world to teach the poor and those less fortunate despite repercussions such protests might bring. All that we need is a spark to reawaken this idealism. This spark of inspiration can come from a multitude of sources. In my case, the wake-up call came in the form of my participation in the Eastern European Holocaust Tour trip.

    At the start of the trip I did not know exactly what to expect. Sure, I knew about the Holocaust, or at least I thought I knew about it. But learning about something in a book is quite different from walking in the path of history. From the start, the police sirens in Amsterdam touched a nerve, as I imagined what it must have been like for Jews in hiding, such as Anne Frank and her family, to hear that noise, fearful that the police might be coming for them at any time.

The Frank home, although virtually bare of all furniture, still conveys the sense of claustrophobia experienced by the family. Her ordeal made me ashamed about how I had often complained at her age  as part of the teenage “angst” I was experiencing as part of the growing up experience. Anne Frank, unfortunately, did not have the opportunity to grow up, her life snuffed out by man’s inhumanity. Yet, she remained optimistic about mankind, a view that I found increasingly hard to share as the trip progressed.  

     The transit camp at Westerbork in Holland, the so-called model concentration camp at Thieresenstadt, the cemetery at Bergen Belsen, and the crematorium at Aushwitz, are all examples to what happens when good people sit back and watch the evil actions of others pass them. All these places, together with the house in Wannasee, outside Berlin, where the Final Solution was planned, left me cold, chilled to the bone.

While I was there in the winter, I am certain that the chill would have run through my body even on the warmest summer day. How did it happen? The Holocaust did not spring into existence over night. First, dehumanize the Jews, then, take away their legal rights. From there it is not hard to convince yourself that they are subhuman and not entitled to any rights at all. All that was needed was a spark, an inspiration of a madman which slowly and overtook the minds and morals of the German people.

    Sadly, inspiration can be for evil as well as good. The recent acts of mass genocide committed in Rwanda and Bosnia were inspired by leaders who led misguided people, fearful of the future and all too ready to blame other groups for their problems. Man’s inhumanity to man and his capacity to do such evil actions fill our history textbooks and left me depressed. Yet, that depression lifted when I heard the stories of our tour guide, Cor Suijk. (Sow_k)

    Cor is a righteous gentile who during the war, at great risk to himself, sheltered Jews from the Nazis. What makes Cor’s stories so inspirational is that he can admit his mistakes. For example Cor distinctively remembers an incident when, due to peer pressure, he refused to lend his bicycle to a fellow classmate, Eric. Years later, when Cor was a prisoner in a concentration camp, he noticed that Eric was one of the SS guards. When he asked Eric for help, Eric responded “don’t count on me bastard.” Eric had remembered the abuse he had put up with as a child. Perhaps, had Cor shown Eric kindness in connection with the bicycle, Eric would have been inspired for good, instead of evil.

    Cor’s point is that we are all interconnected. A good deed gets passed along and somewhere and sometime will surely result in another act of kindness. Similarly, when no one cares, evil triumphs over good. As Cor noted, when he was a student he did not know many Jews, and when he asked a friend why he hadn’t seen a fellow student in a while, the friend responded that the missing student was a Jew, that Jews liked to be alone. The truth, however, was quite different. The Jewish student, faced with the Nazi oppression, and isolated from his fellow students, had killed himself.

    From these and other incidents Cor concluded that people do make a difference. When people help each other, and care about themselves, their environment and their government, the good is contagious. It is only when people cease caring about others, when fear overtakes compassion that a vacuum is created and filled with evil. Cor has dedicated himself to making sure that no such vacuum exists, and to teaching people that together we can make a difference for good.

    The 2,000 mile Holocaust trip was, as Cor puts it, “just an appetizer.” This journey of self-realization and the knowledge that we can make a difference for the better by working together for the common good, and that failing to do so leaves the world open to hatred, corruption and dehumanization, has just begun. It is, as Cor says, never to late to start making a difference. Trust yourself, and do not succumb to fear and prejudice.

His five step philosophy is a good starting point:
First:      know that the difference between good and evil is that
             while all people make mistakes, evil people deny them.
Second,  tell the truth and take pride in doing so.
Three,    do not lump an entire group together.
Four,      make your own decisions and don’t generalize.
And five, acknowledge that we all have weaknesses that we must resist.
Whether you are deciding to take action against the school bully,
or organizing a protest against immoral actions undertaken by your government,
Cor’s five steps are relevant. 

    Evil triumphs when good men do nothing. Cor and others like him did something and they defeated the greatest evil of their generation. Today, Cor inspires us to be as good as we potentially can be. He, and others like him, serves as a symbol of hope guiding us to follow our better instincts. They give us a reason to believe in ourselves and in our society.  They affirm the value of the individual and his ability to change society for the better. Cor and other inspiring figures answer any doubts we might have about our ability to do well and to make a difference by reminding us that we can do the right thing.

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January 30 2008 Cor Suijk was speaker at the Tecumseh Junior High School in Lafayette:

As a child, Cor Suijk thought the world was a fair place: Good things happen to good people and bad things to those who deserve them.

When he was 19, however, the now 83-year-old learned this wasn't always the case. He and his father were shopping in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, when they saw Nazi soldiers and Dutch police round up and arrest all the Jewish males out with their families in the city's main square.

"I can never remove that from my eyes," Suijk told the Tecumseh Junior High School student body during a speech Monday. "The women took off after the streetcars crying the names of their fathers, brothers and sons."

When they got home, his father told his mother, "We must help those people." .....

Click here for the complete article
at the Lafayette Journal and Courier website

copy from Michael Heinz/Journal & Courier

Regularly there will be a WEEK of TRUTH !!
Watch when on the website mentioned above.

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July 9th 2004