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|Educating the Community
HOPE Documentary | The Second Generation | Cosmetology Students
Ishmael Beah | Denim Day | Combat Paper Project
RVCC has taken an active role in educating the community about the dangers of prejudice and hatred and encouraging people to make positive life choices. The College engaged in a number of initiatives, from helping others understand how the Holocaust has affected subsequent generations; to exposing how one poor choice with drugs or alcohol could destroy countless lives; to sharing the story of a former child solider in Sierra Leone. Following is a small sampling of the variety of programs offered by RVCC during the past year.
This year RVCC's HOPE Project (Healthy Options for Prevention and Education) created a documentary examining how lives are altered forever by a single decision made while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In A Split Second, which was first screened on campus in April, was directed and edited by RVCC Adjunct Associate Professor of Film Harry Hillard.
The documentary features actual offenders, as well as the family members of both victims and offenders, who openly share their life-changing stories. Their experiences provide a glimpse of the devastation caused by these decisions. Some of those featured in the film are connected to RVCC, either as students or family members of students.
The HOPE Project is a grant-funded substance abuse prevention project. Its goal is to educate 18-25 year olds that when their peers make a single bad choice, it has consequences that they and their families will live with forever. By openly sharing these personal stories, it is hoped that the documentary will inspire young people to make better choices.
In A Split Second has been made available for screening by local high school and community groups. Since its initial screening, In A Split Second has been viewed at public and parochial high schools and technical schools, at council meetings and for law enforcement and community groups throughout the region.
The Second Generation . . .
A film created by RVCC staff and faculty has helped the community gain a better understanding of the effects of the Holocaust on later generations. The Second Generation . . .Ripples From the Holocaust, had its New York City premiere in November at The Museum of Tolerance--NY, A Simon Wiesenthal Museum, and also was featured in July at a film festival and International Genocide Scholars Conference in Buenos Aires.
The documentary, which focuses on the experiences of children of Holocaust survivors, was created by RVCC Director of Cultural Outreach Peppy Margolis, who serves as executive producer of the film. The documentary was directed and edited by Harry Hillard, RVCC adjunct associate professor of film. It also features an original score by John Sichel, RVCC instructor of music. Under Hillard's guidance, RVCC students provided camera work and technical assistance. Elizabeth Wilen-Berg, a psychologist and daughter of Holocaust survivors, served as a consultant for the film and also provided commentary on how the rippling effects of their parents' trauma impact the second generation.
The documentary--which includes interviews, personal family photographs and archival footage--features several New Jersey residents who are children of Holocaust survivors, including Margolis. Those who were interviewed are active members of the Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at RVCC. The production is sponsored by the College's Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the Jewish Federation of Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren Counties.
RVCC's Cosmetology program received national attention when three of its students were honored for their exemplary community service in developing a public service campaign on the warning signs of domestic abuse.
The students--Joseph Fiorilli, Misty Granski and Imtiaz Karim--were awarded a Gold Medal in June at SkillsUSA's 47th annual National Leadership and Skills Conference, held in Kansas City, Missouri.
The students earned first place in the community service competition for their service learning project focusing on domestic abuse. The students had previously won first place in the New Jersey State SkillsUSA community service competition, held in April at the Somerset County Vocational and Technical High School.
RVCC recently became a SkillsUSA chapter member under the direction of Marcia Bird, coordinator of the Cosmetology program. The SkillsUSA Championship is the national-level competition for public high school and college/postsecondary technical students enrolled in career and technical education programs.
The RVCC students' project involved several programs featuring the College's nationally recognized Service Learning Program. The project also included training about domestic abuse from the Resource Center of Somerset County, a domestic violence agency, and "Cut It Out," a program sponsored by the Professional Beauty Association, National Cosmetology Association and Willow House.
The RVCC students presented their service learning project that involved learning how to identify the signs of domestic abuse and discreetly referring people to appropriate agencies for help. The students then shared their knowledge with local salon professionals, as well as high school and college students.
In March the College's Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies hosted Ishmael Beah, author of the best-selling book, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. The book details Beah's life as a child solider in Africa's civil war-torn Sierra Leone.
"Ishmael Beah serves as a wonderful example of someone who was able to turn his life around and help make the world a better place,"says Peppy Margolis, RVCC director of Cultural Outreach. "His story of redemption and hope is an inspiration."
In his memoir Beah describes how, after fleeing attacking rebels, he was picked up by the government army when just a young teen. And Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts. He was eventually released by the army and sent to a UNICEF rehabilitation center.
After completing rehabilitation in late 1996, Beah won a competition to attend a United Nations conference to speak about the devastating effects of war on children in his country. It was there that he met his new mother, Laura Simms. Beah returned to Sierra Leone and continued speaking about his experiences. After moving to the US and living with his American family, Beah continued his advocacy work to bring attention to the plight of child soldiers and children affected by war around the world. He has spoken on behalf of UNICEF, Human Rights Watch, United Nations Secretary General's Office for Children and Armed Conflict, and at the United Nations General Assembly.
The RVCC community shined the spotlight on sexual assault in April, offering a number of programs to educate the public about the warning signs and available support services.
The College, in collaboration with the Women's Health and Counseling Center in Somerville, commemorated Denim Day. As part of the program, co-sponsored by the College's Women's Center Programming Board, clotheslines were strung in the RVCC courtyard on which were hung several pairs of jeans decorated by women who had been sexually assaulted. Those in attendance had the opportunity to decorate cut-out paper jeans to represent their own experience with sexual assault, or those of someone they know. Participants also learned about how they can prevent or reduce the incidence of sexual assault and therefore feel empowered.
Combat Paper Project
In honor of Veterans Day, RVCC participated in the Combat Paper Project in November. The national project, which is run by veterans, enables participants to create paper from old military uniforms. Veterans often add images and text to creatively express their combat experiences.
On Veterans Day members of the College community--both veterans and non-veterans--were able to watch paper being created from uniforms and engage in the artistic process. In addition, a collection of finished works was on display in RVCC's College Center.
RVCC hosted the project with the Branchburg-based Printmaking Center of NJ.
30th Anniversary Celebration
Three outstanding community members were honored in May at the 30th anniversary celebration of The Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at RVCC. The evening celebrated three honorees, Arthur and Elizabeth Roswell of Bridgewater and Steve Kalafer of Gladstone. NBC News journalist Martin Fletcher served as the keynote speaker.
The Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies is a joint project between the College and the Jewish Federation of Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren Counties. For additional information, visit RVCC to Celebrate 30th Anniversary of Holocaust and Genocide Institute.
Thirty-four middle and high school students from Somerset and Hunterdon counties were honored for their achievements at the 21st Annual Paul Robeson Youth Achievement Awards Reception, held in April at RVCC. The evening featured a keynote address by Jerome C. Harris, Jr., managing director of the Harris Organization, a strategic consulting firm specializing in community and organization development. Close to 70 students were nominated for awards by their guidance counselors, teachers and administrators.
The National Council of Negro Women and RVCC initiated the achievement awards program in 1990 to pay tribute to the outstanding attainments of students in the two counties. The awards are named in honor of Paul Robeson, a Princeton native who grew up in Somerville and graduated from Somerville High School and Rutgers University. The awards, sponsored by the Paul Robeson Institute for Ethics, Leadership and Social Justice at RVCC, are given in four areas in which Robeson excelled: scholarship, the arts, community service and athletics. In addition, special “Renaissance Scholars” awards are given to students who excel in a number of disciplines.
Gaining National Attention | Educating the Community