SIA student organizes event bringing Holocaust survivor to campus

Inge Auerbacher Credit: The Daily Collegian

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Stacy Jarvis, an integrated undergraduate-graduate (IUG) student at the School of International Affairs, is only in her third year as a student at Penn State; but she is wise beyond her years.

Jarvis was the lead organizer of Holocaust survivor Inge Auerbacher’s recent visit and address at Penn State. Held in Eisenhower Auditorium on April 2 at 7:00 p.m., the event drew in 700 attendees.

Auerbacher was born in Kippenheim, Germany, and was deported to Theresienstadt Ghetto, a Nazi concentration camp in Czechoslovakia, when she was only seven. She authored several books on her time as a child of the Holocaust, and now, at age 83, speaks internationally, recounting the experiences of her youth.

“Inge was here on campus a few years ago, and we knew we wanted to bring her back,” said Jarvis. “I had a great team in the executive board and staff of Hillel, as well as other students and organizations across campus to help make this successful. It was a collective effort for sure.”

During Auerbacher’s talk, she explained the deplorable conditions under which her family was forced to live. Miraculously, she and her parents survived. They immigrated to the United States, and she went on to go to college and become a chemist. Her message to her audience was the importance of teaching tolerance to all generations. She emphasized that when you sit down and truly seek to understand someone, fear and bias fades away; all that is left is their humanity.

The five months of planning to make the evening a reality were certainly worth it to Jarvis, who has always been interested in, and had a passion for, Holocaust education and survivor events. After acting as the assistant in organizing last year’s event, she was excited to take on the lead role this year. She believes that giving a voice to something that sometimes can seem distant brings back the reality of it.

“These events mean a lot, not just to the Jewish community, but to the greater community as well, as the opportunity becomes less available,” said Jarvis. “We must hear the stories while we still can. If we don’t listen to these survivors, we can’t fully understand what happened. We remember, and by remembering these atrocities, we can attempt to prevent their recurrence.”

During her time at SIA, Jarvis is focusing on international human rights and hopes to work in that field after graduation.