Diary Of A Hollywood Refugee

Sunday, February 06, 2005

"Paper Clips"

What happens when students from a middle school in Whitwill, Tenn, a Southern Baptist town, of mostly white christians, with no Jews, and lacking in any real diversity, attempt to study the Holocaust?

Nothing short of a miracle. They are forever changed as are their parents and teachers, they transform hearts and minds around the world, break down stereotypes, and create a living memorial dedicated not just to the Holocaust victims, but to breaking down prejudice.

The school principal in an attempt to get her students to open their eyes to the diversity of the world outside their town, teaches them about The Holocaust. Responding to something completely foreign to them and to what they could only comprehend on an intellectual level, they come up with the idea to collect six million paper clips as a way to more deeply comprehend the magnitude of this event, and to honor every soul that was was victim of the Holocaust. They chose paper clips because they had been worn by Norwegians during the war as a form of silent protest.

This simple yet truly profound act, would forever alter the lives of everyone in that town and reach out to open the hearts of others around the world.

The kids put the word out but not nearly enough paper clips were initially collected...that is until two German journalists assigned to cover the White House contacted the students, offering to help.

The project received national publicity, with an article in the Washington Post and a segment on “World News Tonight,” and all told 30 million paper clips arrived, attached to stories, in some 25,000 pieces of mail!

Each letter was documented and filed.

Suddenly this tiny town, (pop.1600) with no real ethnic or religious diversity suddenly, became the gathering place for Holocaust survivors, their families and the families of victims to share their stories; and a place where they all found hope and healing. As these events unfolded, not only did one teacher ,admitting to his own racism, have a remarkable change of heart, but the entire town underwent a transformation!

However, this uplifting and riveting story doesnt end there. (Altho by now I had gone thru an entire box of kleenex)

A living memorial was created, when a railcar that had been used to transport Jews to the camps, was brought in from Germany, and now houses the paper clips. Its a truly uplifting living memorial, in the schoolyard, where children and tourists come to listen and learn from these remarkable students of Whitwell Middle School.

Everyone in Whitwell, as well as all those that took part in this endeavor over a three year period, undergoes a personal journey and spiritual transformation, and I have to believe that this powerful, riveting, emotional documentary about hope redemption joy and promise will not only uplift but also transform the hearts and minds of all who view it, as it shatters stereotypes about Southern Christians and Christian Jewish dyanmics.

"Paper Clips" touched my heart and my soul, and I am forever inspired by the lesson that the world can be changed....... "one classroom at a time".


  • At 7:09 AM, February 06, 2005, Blogger nico trance said…

    like your left of center views.

  • At 6:20 PM, February 06, 2005, Blogger Huntress said…

    Efharisto poli, Nico

    I hope you understand when I say left of center..I don't mean left as in "liberal" .

    Its an expression, meaning "..different from the crowd"...."unique"...."offbeat".

    I keep forgetting that the word "left" implies political perspective. When it comes to politics..I definately lean more to the "right"...altho I consider myself a moderate republican like Arnold Schwartznegger or Rudy Guiliani.


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