By Charlene Wirtz
The travelling exhibit commemorating Holodomor, the genocide by starvation imposed on the Ukrainians by Josef Stalin in 1932-33, made a stop for the day at the Wadena Composite School.
Housed in a modified bus, the exhibit is a project of the Canadian Ukrainian Foundation, a national charitable organization that provides assistance to Ukraine in many forms. Called the Holodomor Mobile Classroom (HMC), it utilizes technology to deliver an interactive educational experience on this dark time in history.
“We were extremely lucky to get it for a whole day,” principal Darin Faubert told the News. The idea of getting the bus occurred in the fall, when Faubert and Horizon School Division’s curriculum consultant Larry Mikulcik learned that it was coming to Saskatchewan this year. After consultation around the division, they organized stops not only in Wadena, but at other schools in the division.
The Holodomor has only recently come to light in world history, having been suppressed and denied not only by its instigators in Russia, but by the allies who bought the grain forcibly taken from Ukraine. (Regular readers of the News may recall we did a story on the Holodomor commemoration held in Rama in November, and the information on the Holodmor is reprinted here.)
The mobile classroom itself consists of 33 seats and twelve large screens, which are used to show videos, provide information, and supply visual learning aids. Tablets are used for the interactive portions, where students get to become ‘history detectives’ and use source material to look into the history of the Holodomor.
“It is an excellent way to present this information to students,” Faubert commented. “Kids are so technology driven, this is a fantastic method to get the message across.”
The students agree; from the Grade 11 reactions, it was very successful as a learning process.
“It is a really good idea,” one student said. Other comments included, “I definitely learned a lot,”; “I thought it was the Holocaust when I first walked in, and now I know what really happened,”; “It was a good presentation.”
The adult presentation differed slightly; instead of following the student model, it consisted of informative videos and a short question period.
Presenter Stephanie Bailey has been with the bus since it started touring, and says it has been very well received, with a lot of positive response. “People are emotionally affected by this, and people on the prairies are happy that this is being commemorated,” Bailey told the News.
“We try to leave them with something, some way to help recognize how this sort of thing starts and how they can help prevent it,” Kevin Viaene, the other staffer on the bus, added.