Endowed history: Remembering the Holocaust

Photo courtesy of Nicolas DuBos

By Elizabeth Coss and Christopher Gillett

Over 100 Youngstown State University students and staff traveled to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. on Oct. 22 to reflect on its effects throughout history.

For almost 15 years, the trip has been sponsored by the Mr. and Mrs. William B. Clayman Judaic and Holocaust Studies Endowment Agreement through the YSU Foundation. 

The Clayman Endowment funds more than the annual trip to the Holocaust Museum, including the professorships, programs and activities of YSU’s Judaic and Holocaust Studies Program. 

Jesse McClain, an adjunct English professor and the Holocaust liaison for the Jewish Community Center, said William and Hilda Clayman created the endowment in honor of the YSU professor who founded YSU’s Judaic and Holocaust Studies Program. 

“[The Clayman’s] were very close to a professor at YSU — Saul Friedman,” McClain said. “To honor Dr. Friedman, and to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive, the Clayman family did an endowment to YSU for that purpose … one of the parts of it was getting students at YSU to have the experience of going to the Holocaust Museum.”

The endowment fully funds the trip and students can travel for $25. After the trip, the money collected is pooled back into the endowment.

One student on the trip, Donald Vanhorn, a junior telecommunication sports broadcasting major, said learning about the atrocities overwhelmed him.

“It really made me emotional going through the museum … All these people died for what?” Vanhorn said. “It just made me so sick that humans would want to do this to other human beings.”

Vanhorn said seeing the immensity of the Holocaust was surreal.

“I never really got to take in the Holocaust as it was. You’re learning about it in your social studies class [in] middle school and high school. They’re telling you about it, but you don’t get to really [delve] into what it’s really about. And I didn’t actually get to [delve] into it until we got to the actual museum,” Vanhorn said.

McClain explained the trip is sponsored primarily through the Beeghly College of Liberal Arts, Social Sciences & Education and the International Programs Office. He said the trip is a great way for collaboration between the two. 

“[The trip] is a lot. The International Programs Office — they couldn’t be nicer, they couldn’t be more accommodating — it’s wonderful to work with them,” McClain said. 

Nicholas DuBos, coordinator for International Student Services, said the trip is not only impactful for American students, but international students who can experience the museum and Washington D.C.

Both McClain and DuBos said learning from the Holocaust Museum was important for learning how other genocides can be prevented. 

“It’s easy to see something like that could always happen again in a country if … things are going the way they did in Germany in the 1920s and ‘30s,” DuBos said. “If you look around the world, it’s always a possibility for something like [the Holocaust] to happen again, but [the museum] teaches you lessons.” 

The annual trip takes place every fall semester and is open to all students. For more information about the Holocaust Museum, visit its website.