Second Generation and Education Team Member
Sonia is a retired elementary school teacher who taught in the Santee School District in San Diego County and was voted Teacher of the Year during her tenure.
I became involved with The Butterfly Project as a way to keep the survivors’ stories alive. I was once told by a survivor, “You weren’t there and should not speak for us!” As a daughter of Holocaust survivors and an educator, The Butterfly Project has given me a way to be part of the Holocaust experience.
My parents are no longer here to tell their story and now I am their voice. I feel that it is my tribute to them that I carry on their stories, least they perish too! I am invited into classrooms all over San Diego County because of The Butterfly Project. As educators, we can reach out to younger children and lay the foundation for this piece of history. Painting the butterflies is a an excellent reminder to these young people that life is precious and should never be taken for granted. Our students have been touched by a piece of history that they feel they are now part of. To be able to tell my parents’ stories, have a child put on my father’s concentration camp cap has moved so many young minds. Though I’m not a survivor, but a survivor’s daughter, the students feel that we have brought history to them. We have made it real and it is an experience they won’t forget.
Rarely are 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders exposed to such a difficult subject matter, but through The Butterfly Project, we have been able to reach them with literature, vocabulary and personal stories. Whether our topic for the day is bullying or Holocaust they all come away knowing that they have painted something beautiful to represent a child, like them, that never had the opportunities that they have been given. They know that is now their responsibility to stand up for what is right, not be a bystander and make the world a better place. Painting a butterfly and signing their name as a participant of The Butterfly Project has had tremendous effect on them that they will not forget.
I know my parents are proud that they raised a daughter who will NEVER FORGET! We need The Butterfly Project as our introduction to the schools and our vehicle to reach their students.
Sonia studied at San Diego State University.