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2018 Programs


"Chosen to Die, Destined to Live" Presented by Survivor and Author Frida Umuhoza

Frida is a survivor of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide against the Tutsis. She witnessed her family being massacred by Hutu men with machetes and was then asked how she wanted to die. She could not afford a bullet, which they offered to sell her, so instead she received what should have been a fatal blow to the head. She was put in a mass grave with her slaughtered family only to find herself still alive and conscious, and she eventually climbed out. Frida’s traumas will never be undone, but today she has an important message for the world.

Frida recounted how her life was utterly transformed by the power to forgive and love her enemies. Despite great adversity, the message is one of immense hope and personal deliverance.

This event was made possible in part by The Florence and Laurence Spungen Family Foundation, The Herbert Simon Family Foundation, and Indiana Humanities with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

This event took place on Tuesday, March 6, 2018, at 6:30 pm Eastern Time.

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"Mass Imprisonment in America" The Story of Sam Mihara—Japanese Internment Survivor

Sam Mihara is a second-generation Japanese American. During World War II, Sam was imprisoned with his family at Heart Mountain, Wyoming. He was just 9 years old and was one of 120,000 Japanese Americans forced into prison camps. Heart Mountain was one of 10 camps in the United States.Today Sam is a national speaker on mass imprisonment and a lecturer on the topic at UCLA, U.C. Berkeley, and Harvard. His presentation discusses:

- His own experience at Heart Mountain
- Typical daily conditions in camps around the country
- Why only Japanese Americans were imprisoned
- The release from camp and conditions upon returning home
- Today's prison camps for Central American refugees
- Relationship to registration of Muslims

This event is made possible in part by The Florence and Laurence Spungen Family Foundation and Indiana Humanities.

This event took place on Thursday, May 3, 2018, at 6:30 pm Eastern Time.

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"From Justice to Forgiveness: Rachael Denhollander’s Path to Empowerment"
Presented by former USA gymnast Rachael Denhollander

During a powerful and inspirational evening with Rachael Denhollander discussed her personal strength to speak out and become a voice for hundreds of abused women. Rachael is an advocate and educator who was the first woman to file a police report and speak publicly against USA Gymnastics Dr. Larry Nassar. As a result of her activism, over 300 women came forward as survivors of Nassar’s abuse, leading to his life imprisonment. 

Rachael shared her journey from victimhood, to empowerment, and ultimately to forgiveness. The evening also examined the links between Rachael’s experiences and Eva Kor’s as they discussed medical ethics and their paths to becoming international advocates for forgiveness.

For her work as an advocate and educator on sexual assault, Rachael was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2018, in addition to other awards and recognition for social justice. She has also been recognized and honored in both the Kentucky and Michigan legislatures for her advocacy.

This event is made possible in part by the Florence and Laurence Spungen Family Foundation.

This event took place on Tuesday, October 2, 2018 at 6:30 pm Eastern Time
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"The Shattered Lens: A War Photographer’s True Story of Captivity and Survival in Syria" Presented by Jonathan Alpeyrie

Capturing history was Jonathan’s job, but he never expected to become a news story himself. For a decade, the French American photojournalist had weaved in and out of over a dozen conflict zones. He photographed civilians being chased out of their homes, military trucks roving over bullet-torn battlefields, and too many bodies to count. But on April 29, 2013, during his third assignment to Syria, Alpeyrie was betrayed by his fixer and handed over to a band of Syrian rebels.

For 81 days he was bound, blindfolded, and beaten. Not too far away, President Bashar al Assad’s forces and those in opposition continued their bitter and bloody civil war. Over the course of his captivity, Jonathan kept his spirits up and strived to see, without his camera lenses, the humanity in his captors. He took part in their activities, taught them how to swim, prayed with them, and tried learning their language and culture. He also discovered a dormant faith within himself, which strengthened him throughout the ordeal. Jonathan shares his amazing and inspirational story in his book, The Shattered Lens: A War Photographer’s True Story of Captivity and Survival in Syria.

This event was made possible in part by the Florence and Laurence Spungen Family Foundation.

This event took place on Thursday, October 25, 2018 at 6:30 pm Eastern Time.

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"The True American: Murder & Mercy in Texas" Presented by Rais Bhuiyan

Just 10 days after the attacks on September 11, 2001, Rais Bhuiyan was working at a gas station in Dallas, Texas, when he was shot in the face by a man named Mark Stroman. Stroman was on a shooting spree, targeting people who appeared to be Muslim or of Middle Eastern descent. Bhuiyan, the only survivor of the attacks, looked to his faith to find and offer forgiveness to his attacker, who was sentenced to death. Through forgiveness, Bhuiyan befriended Stroman and attempted, unsuccessfully, to prevent his execution.

Rais Bhuiyan shares his experiences through his organization World Without Hate, which is dedicated to eradicating ignorance, hate, and violence by educating people about the transformational power of mercy and forgiveness. His organization is striving to create a more just and accepting world by building bridges and fostering healthy human growth through compassion, empathy, and understanding.

Bhuiyan shared his story of empowerment and forgiveness with a presentation followed by a book signing of his book, "The True American: Murder & Mercy in Texas," which will be available for purchase at the event.

This event was made possible in part by the Florence and Laurence Spungen Family Foundation.

This event took place on Thursday, November 15, 2018, at 6:30 pm Eastern Time.

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They Played for Their Lives Film Screening with special accordion performance by survivor Frank Grunwald

Through intimate interviews and live performances, They Played for Their Lives artfully portrays how music saved the lives of young musicians during WWII. The documentary follows the personal narratives of eight survivors who describe how music in the ghettos and concentration camps not only fostered spiritual strength within themselves and others, but often proved a bargaining tool that spared their lives. Each of these unique stories illustrates the power of music to sustain the human soul. Following the film, featured musician, Holocaust survivor, and Indiana resident Frank Grunwald answered questions and played his accordion.

This event was made possible in part by the Florence and Laurence Spungen Family Foundation.

This event took place on Saturday, December 1, 2018, at 3:00 pm Eastern Time.

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