OLASTEO Student Scholarship
OLASTEO Student Scholarship
In partnership with CANDLES and College Track Los Angeles (Watts)
Started by Ceci and Aaron Friedman, OLASTEO (our lives as seen through each other) is a scholarship created specifically for helping underprivileged youth with the opportunity to meet Eva Kor, travel with her and CANDLES to Auschwitz, and to meet other people from all over the world. Partnering with College Track in Watts, CA, the OLASTEO scholarship was awarded to the first two students, Vanessa and Bryan, who ventured on the 2016 trip to Auschwitz. The goal for the future of OLASTEO is to be able to sponsor four to six students on this once in a lifetime experience, and perhaps some day be able to include students both nationally and internationally in this incredibly valuable program.
Read the inspiration for OLASTEO
our lives as seen through each other
The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you can alter, even by a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you change the world ~ James Baldwin
Dear Family and Friends,
If you’ve talked to either of us over the last year, you’ve likely heard about the two transformational trips we made to Poland and to the Auschwitz concentration camps with Eva Kor, a Mengele twin, Holocaust survivor, and forgiveness advocate who preaches a message of hope, healing, responsibility, and respect. During our first trip in the summer of 2014, we embarked on an educational vacation to learn from Eva while standing on a strip of land where nearly two million people (Jews and non-Jews) were murdered. When we set off on the second trip in January of 2015, our main intent was to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the camps, instead, something else manifested.
On our trip in 2015, we were fortunate enough to meet a young man named Stephen. Stephen ended up in Poland by way of his friend Jacob. Friends from middle school in rural Michigan, Jacob took Stephen along on a road trip to visit CANDLES and they both signed up for the trip the next day. Towards the end of our time in Poland, Stephen shared with our group that Eva was an inspiration to him. If she could forgive Dr. Mengele and the Nazis for what occurred at Auschwitz, then perhaps he could forgive his father for having physically abused him as a young child.
Upon hearing Stephen’s story and having dealt with some of the emotions from the first trip, we both saw Auschwitz in a different light the second time around. The atrocities that occurred in Auschwitz and across Europe during WWII were not just a Jewish problem, they were a human problem. Acts of genocide do not suddenly happen one day. They are rooted in the smaller acts of hatred, bigotry, prejudice, bullying, gang violence, intolerance, and a simple denial of human rights. Moving past these differences takes acceptance and forgiveness.
Forgiveness, from Eva’s standpoint, does in no way mean to forget nor condone the actions of the perpetrator(s). Eva’s emphasis on forgiveness is about hope; it’s the idea that no matter what has happened to you, you can still find a way to heal and move forward. She consistently preaches the concept of “beauty after disaster, hope after despair” and “forgiveness is a seed for peace while anger is a seed for war.”
While Eva’s message is applicable to anyone, we have a specific interest in finding a way to help underprivileged youth. Because of this, we’ve decided to start OLASTEO and to send two students from Watts in our home city of Los Angeles to Auschwitz with Eva and the CANDLES group. We’ve partnered with College Track, an organization that works with students to get them on the path to college, and specifically focused on their Watts, CA campus (https://collegetrack.org/where-we-work/los-angeles-watts/). For 2016, we sponsored two students to go on the trip (Vanessa and Bryan). In the future, we hope to sponsor four to six students to embark on this once in a lifetime experience. And maybe, one day, we’ll be able to send a group of students from many places, nationally and internationally.
We committed $10,000 to OLASTEO in its first year and are looking to raise matching funds. If you already have a charity of choice that you donate to each year or if this just isn’t the year for you, we completely respect that. If you’re searching for a charitable commitment to make we’d love to talk further. Any dollar amount will help us meet our goal for 2016 and expanding the program beyond that. If you’d like to setup a yearly contribution that would be just as wonderful too. It’ll all be tax deductible as your funds will go directly to CANDLES but earmarked specifically for OLASTEO.
To donate, please visit the CANDLES website donation page at the following web address: https://candlesholocaustmuseum.org/trips/olasteo-fundraising.html.
If you want to learn more about CANDLES, the trip, Eva, OLASTEO, or have any general questions, please reach out to us and we’d be happy to talk.
Ceci and Aaron
2016 OLASTEO Recipients
Meet Vanessa Meet Bryan