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Union Catholic's Susan Wojcik shares her vast knowledge about the Holocaust with students at UC

By Jim Lambert
 
Susan Wojcik has always liked to give back to Union Catholic. 
 
It all started when Wojcik, now a senior at Union Catholic, was assigned to read Night by Elie Wiesel along with the rest of her freshman English Class, which was taught by Mrs. Michele Donegan.
 
Wiesel is a Holocaust survivor who wrote about his experience with his father in the Nazi German concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald in 1944–1945 during the height of the Holocaust toward the end of World War II. The Auschwitz concentration camp was built and operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II.
 
“Susan mentioned to me that her family took a trip to Auschwitz when she was younger,’’ said Mrs. Donegan. “She asked me if she could present to the class and tell them what she learned and what she saw.’’
 
“Once I saw the book we had to read (Night) and what it was about I thought it would be a good idea to share my experience because not many students have the ability to do that,’’ said Wojcik, who visited Auschwitz with her family when she was 11.
 
Wojcik, whose parents were raised in Poland, wound up presenting to all the freshman English classes that year, and since then has presented each school year to the freshman English classes and has also presented to several other classes at UC.
 
“Susan show pictures, and does a Power-Point presentation on her trip,’’ said Mrs. Donegan. “She’s very knowledgeable about the subject, and she took the kids to a deeper level. She enlightened the students so much. She made it so real. Susan really enjoys sharing what she saw and what she experienced.
She’s so passionate about it and the students hang on her every word. It’s very moving.’’
 
Wojcik was confident her presentations would make a lasting impression on students.
 
“It’s so much more than seeing a movie or reading a book,’’ said Wojcik, who lives in Avenel. “Being there yourself is a totally different experience. Seeing where they had to sleep, where they were murdered and all the devastation.There is a museum in Auschwitz were they keep all the shoes and clothes and other personal items of the prisoners. It’s so tragic.’’
 
Wojcik said it’s important for people to be as educated as possible about the Holocaust and other important events from the past.
 
“We need to learn about our history so it doesn’t repeat itself,’’ said Wojcik. “I believe strongly in knowing as much about history as possible. It’s something that’s always come naturally to me and I want to give back and share as much as possible whenever I can.’’
 
The Holocaust is a subject Wojcik has always been very knowledgeable and passionate about.
 
“When I was little I went to a Polish school and we learned about the history of the Holocaust in pre-school,’’ said Wojcik. “I learned all about World War 1 and World War 2 and all the horrific things that were going on at a young age. And my parents did a good job instilling the Polish culture and heritage in me. I am very grateful for that.’’

In addition to her presentations to classes at UC, Wojcik has served as a Teacher’s Assistant (TA) at her former school (Polish Cultural Foundation in Clark), has been as a TA at UC for Mr. Rich Geisheimer’s Geometry class and Mrs. Mary Jo Raite’s Chemistry class, and she’s currently a Chemistry tutor, and is the President of UC’s Environmental Club.
 
“I like the idea of helping my teachers,’’ said Wojcik. “They have done so much for me and helped me learn so much, so and I want to share that knowledge and give back as much as I can in any way I can. It’s something I really enjoy.’’
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