Ursuline News

Ursuline Unveils New Elective
Ursuline Unveils New Elective

Jeff Girard's passion subject has turned into a new class.

More than 50 seniors are taking Inside Nazi Germany. Girard will teach two classes each semester.

"I've worked 11 years to get to this point, so I'm honored to finally teach this class," said Girard, who is getting his Master's Degree in Holocaust Studies at University of Texas-Dallas. "It's a look at the Holocaust and Nazi Germany, but it's run like a college course. They read primary sources, write research papers, and lead discussions."

While digesting the content can be trying, Girard said students are learning the importance of fighting injustices. Ten percent of each student's grade is a service project. Examples include starting an anti-bullying campaign at a middle school or touring a mosque or synagogue.

"It's a reminder how fragile a democracy can be," Giard said. "It's a story of human nature and a window of what a human can be —the most evil on one side and the greatest on the other. If you can learn from something, learn from this."

To prepare for the class, Girard attended the Anti-Defamation League's "Bearing Witness" Conference at Georgetown. The prestigious interfaith conference included many speakers, including a rabbi and a Georgetown priest, who is the leading researcher in the subject.

He also visited the Holocaust Museum and the Israeli Embassy during the conference.

"The conference's focus was how Catholic teachers teach the Holocaust," Girard said. "The rabbi and priest viewed a bible passage, and their different perspectives on the same passage were fascinating."

Irma Freudenreich generated the biggest buzz during Ursuline's Humanities Day last year. Freudenreich is 100 years old and the oldest Holocaust survivor in Dallas. She lived in a concentration camp on the border of Poland and Germany.

Girard said his curriculum will be interdisciplinary. Guest lecturers will include Fr. Alfonse Nazzaro, who studied church relations in Nazi Germany. Ursuline teachers Pat Medina and Jocelyn Holmes have also talked about literature and art, respectively, during that time.

"Hopefully my students walk away from this course learning more about their community or city," Girard said. "When you see an injustice, you can't just stand there. You have to do something."