Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Driving Mr. George

One of the organizations I've become involved with since I began the research for my novel is the Holocaust Center of Northern California (HCNC). I volunteer for their Oral History Project (OHP), summarizing and indexing videos of testimonies so that future researchers and students can access them with ease.

Earlier this year I attended HCNC's Day of Learning, which targets high schoolers and educators. It gave me the chance to sit in on panels and hear some of the survivors speak. The lady I work with at the OHP asked if I would be willing to give one of the survivors a ride up to the event. I was nervous to meet George for some reason. I think because I am in awe of the survivors--their courage and the things they saw and faced. Needless to say, George was a remarkable man and we had an interesting conversation. He gave me a copy of his story and two little happy face finger puppets to make me smile and remind me there is always hope. He also made me think a lot about the obstacles that seem so big in my life. When we arrived in San Francisco, the weather was drizzly and miserable, but he said, "I survived Mauthausen, I can handle a little rain!"

Today I gave George a ride to the HCNC's annual Survivor Speakers Bureau and Volunteer Appreciation Lunch. It was great to talk to him again and to see that he always remains positive, despite age, physical limitations and the recent loss of hearing in one ear. As he said, "I arrived in America with only the shirt on my back, two dollars in my pocket, and determination." His story is a constant reminder that you have to look for the best in every situation and make the most out of life.


SueG said...

What important, though very difficult work this is you're doing. And a great lesson to be learned..thanks for reminding us.

Aspiring Writer said...

This kind of post always makes me appreciate the small things in life. What an inspiration meeting Mr George. Thanks for this.

Angie said...

Thanks, Sue. I don't do much, but I enjoy working with such a great organization. The amazing survivors provide constant inspiration.

Aspiring, glad I could pass along the inspiration since it meant a lot to me. Sometimes we get so embroiled in modern living, we forget about the small things.