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Local student raises funds to promote tolerance

By Katie Reynolds

Amanda Haworth saw the need for change in her community, and then went out and made it. After hearing anti-Semitic comments about Jews and the Holocaust, she noticed a lack of education about the Holocaust in her school curriculum.

“I didn’t think that they taught enough about the Holocaust in school. It was described in a paragraph in our history book, that’s not enough,” Haworth said. “I wanted students to be able to learn In a way that they would love. I thought a trip would be fun and educational.”

She was just a freshman at La Jolla High School when she approached her school principal to find out why the school had stopped offering a field trip to the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.

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The Museum of Tolerance provides a history of the Holocaust and shows racial, sexist and gender intolerance that still exists today. While the museum focuses on the events of the Holocaust, It also promotes tolerance in all areas. On a previous trip there, Haworth said her favorite thing at the museum was when she walked into a cement room not knowing what it was, only to find out that it was a gas chamber. “So you get the idea of what they felt like,” she said.

When Haworth found out that the trip had been discontinued due to funding problems, she decided to raise the money herself. The entire cost of the trip included renting buses, paying substitute teachers to replace the history teachers that would accompany the students on the trip, entrance fees for the 410 students and 20 adults and lunch for everyone.

In her effort to raise money, Haworth began by talking to women she had worked on projects with at her Jewish community Foundation. All summer she sent out letters and called possible donors.

Haworth said raising money went, “really slow at first. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to raise enough for the class to go that year. I thought I would just continue to raise money for the rest of the year and have them go the next year.”

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In the end, she managed to raise the necessary $12,000.

Because their curriculum includes world history, it is the junior class that was chosen to go every year.

After the field trip, all of the students who participated had to write an essay talking about how their experience impacted them. The essays were then forwarded on to the donors with a thank you note from the junior class president Nicole Sparks, junior class vice president Mariam Gheissari, and junior class secretary/treasurer Holly Bergstrom that said, “The trip gave us insight into the devastating events during the Holocaust, and also made us aware of the prejudice still alive in our societies today. It also provided us with an opportunity to help our communities in preventing future crimes of prejudice and hate.”

Because she was just a sophomore when the field-trip was reimplemented, Haworth did not get to go on the field-trip with the juniors. She did get to read their responses, however, and said the effect was amazing. “I got to feel what they felt when they were there, to see that it was similar to how I felt,” Haworth said. “I’m really glad I got to read them, because it showed me the impact I made. It helped me realize that what I had done was important.”

Because of her work with La Jolla High School, Haworth was nominated by the San Diego Jewish community for the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award.

The Hebrew word for repairing the world, Tikkun Olam is one of the basic foundations of Judaism. The Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award gives cash awards to California residents between the ages of 13 and 19 years old who are self-identified as Jewish and do extraordinary things for their community.

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Amanda was nominated by the San Diego Jewish community foundation, and then filled out an application for the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award.

Out of more than 75 teenagers who competed, only five were chosen by educators and community leaders from all over California.

Winners are supposed to use the money towards either college or other support of the community. Amanda plans to use the scholarship towards college, where she hopes to pursue a business degree. This year, she will be a senior at La Jolla High school. Currently, she is spending her summer working as an assistant facilities coordinator at her temple, applying for college and doing an internship through the Anti-Defamation League. In the internship, she creates a presentation to teach schools about media bias and bias in the movies.

At just 18 years old, Haworth has impacted her school forever. Funded by city schools, the field trip is now an obligatory part of the curriculum at La Jolla High School.