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Transcript of UCSB Post Interview 2; Monday, March 10, 2003

Interviewer: Jeremy Garsha
Interviewee: Celia Soudry [UCSB freshman in HM’s GE1ew class]
Prepared by Jeremy Garsha, 3/10/03, formatted HM 3/12/03

This was an interview conducted after Nina came and spoke to the GE class [2/25/03], in an informal Q&A session.  Celia, who had been pre-interviewed on 2/17/03, also went out to lunch with Nina directly after the Q&A.

Jeremy:  Do we have your permission to use any gathered personal information on our Holocaust project website?
Celia: I give my permission.

J:  That’s start talking about Nina?  What did you think about last Tuesday, when you saw her?  What were your initial reactions when you first saw her?
C:  She’s a really energetic woman, I was really surprised because usually Holocaust survivors look really tired, but she really had a light about her.  She was always standing up, and seems really energetic and excited to be there.

J:  Is she kind of what you expected to see or were you expecting someone who was “more tired?”
C:  It seemed like she really wanted to have interaction with the students, usually Holocaust survivors just want to tell their story…[but] she was really open to questions and she would give really clear answers- [for] every little thing she would gave a full complete answer to.

J:  The other speakers you’ve heard where in auditorium-type settings?
C: Right.

J:  And this was real informal question and answer session.  How did you like that?
C:  I liked it a lot.  I liked the fact that the students in the class could ask questions and not feel like they’re in such an auditorium-like setting.

J:  Was there any sort of question and answer opportunity or stage in the auditorium settings?  Like at the end of their speeches did they have time for questions?
C:  Well, even if there were, nobody would raise their hand and ask a question because…that’s just embarrassing.

J:  How would you compare, overall speaker-to-speaker…could you compare Nina to one of the other speakers you’ve heard?
C:  I think that Nina had a really personal touch.  I think that she was really family oriented, you could sense that about her, and I think that every little thing she said had a lot of feeling in it.  She was really truthful, and she gave all the details.

J:  What did you think of her story?  I know you guys were given the chance to read a little bit of background on her, and that was a little different than the other speakers you’ve had- where they just kind of came, am I right?
C:  In high school?
J:  Yeah.
C: You mean like reading up on them before?
J: Yeah.
C: Yeah, we didn’t do that

J:  Did it help to have a little bit of background?
C: Yeah, it helped, but there is nothing like hearing it from her month.  It’s not just like one story, it’s not just the story of her life, it’s like every little thing is a new story.

J:  I know that Dr. Marcuse had you guys write out some question beforehand.  Did that help, having questions prepared beforehand?
C:  I sort of wrote my questions while I was listening to her, because I didn’t really know what kind of personality she’d have- and what kinds of questions I would be able to ask, you know?  Maybe they would be too personal or too general.  But once you really know someone’s personality, and can hear someone talk, it’s easier to formulate a question for them. [link to Celia's questions for Nina]

J:  What kinds of questions did you have for her?
C:  Just like how did you feel leaving the house you were hiding in?  Did you weigh the pros and cons of leaving?  Did you regret leaving?  Just stuff like that.

J:  And what did you think of her answers, when she answered the students’ questions?
C:  Some of the answers were really long, so sometimes we lost track of what the question was, but at the end the question didn’t even matter because she gave so much information, it sort of covered all the boundries.  You can’t just ask her a question and she’ll give you a two-word answer, she really gives you a full description.

J:  I understand that you went out to lunch with her afterwards, can you describe that for me?  How many people went?
C: It was just me, her, and the professor.  It was really informal, and it was really nice.  She is such an interesting woman, she’s so warm…I can definitely see her as…she’s like my grandma; I just feel that family, homey feeling.

J:  So you felt like you could ask her anything?
C: Yeah, like we didn’t talk necessarily about her story and the Holocaust, but everything in her life is a story, even what she is doing right now; and where she is living, and her family, like her daughter- that’s what we talked about, and that was really nice.  It was really nice to get a chance to do that.

J:  After you had lunch with her, and after the talk, because they were both back to back, did you talk to anyone about Nina; like with your roommates or hallmates, or friends and family?
C:  I invited her to come to Shimbah[Shabbat?] dinner whenever she wanted to, in L.A. with my family, and I told my mom, who was really excited, she was like “yeah, that’d be really great if she could come have dinner with us or anything.”  And I told my roommate.  I was really excited, I missed class and everything.

J:  You missed a class to go out to lunch?
C:  Yeah, at first I just left [the GE] class, and then I thought, “this is a once and a lifetime opportunity, I will probably never get to see her again, so why not just go.”

J:  What did you think of the photo collage that she brought?  Was it helpful to have visual aids during the talk, or did they seem unrelated?
C:  No, it was good.  I didn’t really get to look at it for a long time; everyone was just sort of passing it around.  It would have been nice to have looked at it for a while and find out who’s who.  But yeah, like one picture was her right after the war, and she was sick, I think, and that was the most they could cure her. [?- due to poor audio]

J:  What was the highlight of her talk?  What still sticks out now?
C:  There are so many things.  She told the story of when she was working in a Polish factory, and she was going to lose her job, so she went to the head of the factory, or the boss in charge, and she was talking to him, and he told her that she reminded him of his daughter.  I think she was crying, that was interesting.

J: Yeah, she kind of teared up talking about her mom.
C: Yeah.

J:  Is there anything, now that you have already met her and had your interaction, is there anything that you wished you had asked her, or wished you had known so that you could have asked her about it? [Question is in response to Lauren Winslow’s wish to have talked about her return trip to Poland with HM (see post-interview 1, 2/28/03)]
C: No.  All I really wanted was to get to know her personality.  Stories are important, but I think it is more important to have a relationship with someone.  It was just really nice to get to know her as a person.

J:  So it was nice to have that long time [with her] at lunch?
C: Yeah.  And to see them as real people, real people living today.  They are not totally different from us just because they lived through a war, or such a horrible tragedy.  She lost everyone, and for her to be the way she is today is just amazing.  I don’t know how people could do that.

J:  When you guys were at lunch, was it nice to not even talk about the Holocaust?
C:  Yeah.

J:  You guys could just talk.  Were you expecting that, or did you think the lunch would be a continuation of the Q&A session?
C:  I didn’t go there thinking I was going to ask written down questions like an interview, but it was nice just to talk about other stuff.

J:  So overall you rank the experience pretty helpful?
C:  Yeah, defiantly.

J:  How did it feel, to have the last bit of your class tied up by Nina’s talk? [Question was inspired by the Lauren Winslow interview (post-interview 1, 2/28/03)]
C:  I think it was really good how he brought Nina in, so we could put a real person to what we were learning.

J:  You think it was, I haven’t talked to some of the other kids in the class- but I know it was some of their first experiences with a survivor, you think it was nice to have such a small, intimate conversation with a survivor, for their first experience?
C:  Yeah, in an auditorium setting you are not always listening to the speaker, because there is so much going on around you, but when you’re in an environment where there is only 18 students listening to one person, you really get to focus on that person with no distractions.

J:  How did it feel to know that she could see you too?
C:  Yeah, I don’t know, it’s kind of intimidating at first.

J:  Is there anything else you wanted to mention about Nina, or the whole experience?
C: Not really.  I just think she is a remarkable woman, to be able to do what she does.  And she has so much energy, I don’t know how old she is, but she definitely has a lot of energy, which is really surprising. 

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Created March 2003, last updated May 5, 2003
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