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Evaluation of the Holocaust and Human Rights Nevada Student Conference in Reno (Nev.), March 16, 1984





Evaluation of the Holocaust and Human Rights Nevada Student Conference held in Reno, Nevada on March 15, 1984.

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jhp000942. Sperling Kronberg Mack Holocaust Resource Center Records, 1971-2016. MS-00733. Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Libraries



EVALUATION OF THE HOLOCAUST AND HUMAN RIGHTS (RENO) Background The Holocaust and Human Rights Nevada Student Conference was held in Reno March 15, 1984 from 4:00 p.m. until 9:15 p.m. in the Nugget Convention Center. The format of the program included large-group lec-tures and small-group workshops. 350 high-school-aged students were in attendance, and the evening public session attracted an additional 125 adults. Goals The stated goal of the program was to "underscore the impact of twentieth-century man's inhumanity to man, of which' the Holocaust was the ultimate example" and to make it possible for those involved in the forum to "gain a renewed appreciation of the value of the human rights tradition." To that end, the organizers brought together par-ticipants representing the disciplines of history, sociology, psy-chology, and religious history, along with authors and civil rights and civil liberties advocates to present and discuss the topic at hand. While a number of these disciplines are not traditionally con-s i dered "humanities," all participants brought their particular know-ledge to bear on a topic solidly grounded in the traditional definition of "humanity." In that light, the participants strove to present their contributions in a way that highlight e d their disciplines' particular relevance to the topic. The quality of scholarship was excellent, and all participants were able to target successfully the high-school aged and educated audience. Achievements The planners of the project proved to be most succ essful in _,' achieving their _stated goals. One of the major achievements of the program was the unity that the planners managed to effect among pre-senters and participants. A sense of shared mission was evident, and, by the end of the evening, a sense of shared success was apparent. The planners and presenters had an excellent sense of just who their audience was. The large lectures, the workshops, and the impressive packet of materials given to each participa~t, were astutely geared to the high-school participants and made the material presented both un-derstandable and accessible to the audience. In that regard, the choice of Robert Clary as keynote speaker was perfect. Having someone whom the audience identified with the comedic style speak so seriously and intensely in such plain language about his own experiences had a truly impressive impact on the audience. He knew his audience and he drew from the years in his life that paralleled their own ages to make a remarkable statement to them all. By the end of the conference people know more and, more importantly, were thinking more. Obviously, much of the success of the program stemmed from the committment of the planners to their topic. The list of those support-ing the conference both monetarily and in principle was long--ranging from Governor Bryan to Elie Wiesel; from Parker's Western Wear to the Nevada Humanities Committee--and indicates the kind of effort that only a truly committed planning committee could undertake and achieve. All supporters were acknowledged generously in the program as well as from the podium. Audience Response Participants in the conference seemed to be unanimous in their praise of the program and the planners. Those I talked with before the evening session were tremendously enthusiastic about the afternoon sessions and were looking forward to the evening discussion. While i t i s difficult to trul y portray the level of enthusiasm, perhaps t he fac t that the planners managed to rivet the attention of 350 energet i c high school students is the most telling comment of all. The general audience that came for the evening lecture joined in the standing ovation that Robert Clary received. It seemed that a num-ber of those that made up that audience were parents of the high school participants, which also attests to the level of participation and en-thusiasm that the conference? engendered. Conclusion In conclusion, I would like to say that I was thoroughly impressed with the people who planned the conference and the conference itself. The planners obviously had a vision--and a worthwhile one at that--and were willing to expend the energy and time necessary to carry it through to its successful conclusion. This project was most definitely a jus-tifiable expenditure o_f Nevada Humanities funds, for it did, indeed, increase understanding and appreciation of a topic inherent in any dis-cuss i on of the humanities: the quality of being human.