My personal journey with the Holocaust Educational Trust began when I was invited to represent my school at a visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau as part of the Lessons from Auschwitz Project. This one-day visit left a deep impression on me and I became an Ambassador for the Holocaust Educational Trust. The Trust has given me the opportunity to expand my knowledge of that period of history. Learning and remembering the Holocaust is relevant to us all no matter our age, cultural background or political persuasion.
Since visiting Auschwitz in November 2012, I have addressed the London Assembly and the Belgian Embassy and I have met many inspiring Holocaust survivors. My memories of Auschwitz are deeply ingrained in my everyday thoughts and have altered my perceptions on life.
As a Regional Ambassador for the Holocaust Educational Trust I was invited on a study visit to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, which was a fascinating and thought provoking experience to say the very least. At the start of July, when everyone was still at school, my fellow Regional Ambassadors and I were at the world's leading institute for Holocaust remembrance and research meeting with renowned scholars like Yehuda Bauer and Efraim Zuroff, the world's foremost Nazi hunter.
We learned about the Jewish communities of Europe that existed before the Second World War while also immersing ourselves in contemporary Jewish life in Jerusalem. Experiencing the richness and diversity of Jewish culture there today helped me to appreciate the extent of the loss of Jewish culture and tradition across Europe. This was part of the tragedy of the Holocaust which I had not previously considered, and I could not have gained this understanding by reading textbooks. A special moment for many of us Ambassadors was joining in the Sabbath meal in the home of an ordinary Jewish family. A family just like mine and yours, no longer an abstract or "foreign" culture we could barely relate to.
This study visit really was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. My fellow Ambassadors came from all parts of the United Kingdom and from many different cultures and religions. We formed a special bond with each other. Together we are striving to help to educate our peers on the Holocaust and its legacy today.
In November 2013 I arranged for Zigi Shipper, a Holocaust survivor, to come to my school and talk to History students and the 6th form. He was inspiring and it was an honour to be with him. Students were relentless in their questions and hungry for knowledge.
In the future I hope to use my role as an Ambassador for the Holocaust Educational Trust to educate my peers and those younger than me about the realities and the human stories of the Holocaust. We must all be vigilant to stand up and make a difference in our communities. Young people play a vital role in influencing positive changes in our society.
I look forward to continuing my work with the Trust and passing on my knowledge and experiences to others because I passionately believe that education is the key to preventing the mistakes of the past.