Illinois Holocaust Museum docent Laura Schallman shares fulfilling experiences

Laura Schallman, Docent and Women’s Leadership Committee Member at the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center | Submitted

When Buffalo Grove resident Laura Schallman isn’t helping high school and college students prepare for standardized tests, she is conducting tours for visitors of all ages and backgrounds as a docent at the Illinois Holocaust Museum. Museum docents utilize the techniques of dialogue and inquiry, and encourage exploration of the exhibitions of the Museum. We had a chance to ask her some questions about her time at the museum.

Q: How long have you been a docent at the Museum?

A: Since the Museum opened in 2009.

Q: Why did you become a docent?

A: I feel I have been blessed in my life and have the obligation to give back. I used to be an elementary school teacher and I have a great love for kids.

Q: What is the most fulfilling part about being a docent?

A: Seeing the light in kid’s eyes when any piece of it reaches them. I’ve had a lot of kids ask, ‘How can I help? What can I do to make a difference?’

Q: What do you hope people take away from their visit with you at the museum?

A: I find talking about the meaning of resistance is important. Kids think it just means taking a weapon and defending themselves. Resistance can be maintaining humanity, being able to practice what and who you are even though someone is trying to take that away. I talk about the power of one and stress the fact that everyday people have the opportunity to become heroes.

Q: What is your favorite space in the Museum and why?

A: I love the Room of Remembrance. I find it very peaceful and symbolic and beautiful and there is so much to talk about in there.

Q: Why should people visit the Illinois Holocaust Museum?

A: The Museum is a place where you can have a sense of empathy and teach more than history. It teaches the different forms of resistance and what happens when you don’t stand up. People ask how I can do this every day, they think it’s sad. The Museum is actually very empowering and uplifting.

The application deadline to become a docent is September 30, 2014. To learn how you can become a docent, click here.

The Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Holocaust by honoring the memories of those who were lost and by teaching universal lessons that combat hatred, prejudice and indifference. The Museum fulfills its mission through the exhibition, preservation and interpretation of its collections and through education programs and initiatives that foster the promotion of human rights and the elimination of genocide. The Museum is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.; Thursday evenings until 8:00 p.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Learn more at www.illinoisholocaustmuseum.org.

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