Etty Project's educational programming, Recovering Lost Voices, works to foster empathy and empower students to see themselves as agents of change. Our teaching artists use primary source documents and theatrical/musical/visual arts activities to confront antisemitism and promote human rights, social and racial justice.

We work closely with teachers and existing curricula to adapt workshops to the needs of individual classes, introducing skills and tools that enhance critical reading, writing, thinking, and speaking skills. Students engage in creative, collaborative problem-solving activities and generate their own artistic responses, which they present to the school and broader community.

​​Etty Project visits may range from 45 minutes to multi-day residencies, as lessons are customized to grade levels, subject areas, and time frames. Lessons are organized around essential questions and meet Common Core.

Recovering Lost Voices Workshops

  1. Etty the Play: A Conversation in 3 Acts

    Etty is a one-woman play adapted from the diaries and letters of Etty Hillesum, a young Jewish woman living in the German-occupied Netherlands. As the world closes in around her, Etty digs deep into her soul to root out hatred and bitterness and finds a freedom within herself that is unshakeable. Using only Hillesum’s words, the play presents one woman’s struggle to sustain humanity in the face of brutality. Etty asks us not to leave her at Auschwitz but to let her have a bit of a say in what she hopes will be a new world.

    This program may be booked as a live performance or as a film of a live performance for remote viewing. The film includes three separate parts that may be used together or individually.

    1. Act I is the live performance or filmed theater performance of Etty (35 minutes)
    2. Act II is a film presenting discussions from a variety of venues, including prisons and theaters. This second act engages its audiences in discussions of what it means to be human, fostering dialogue about social justice, violence and hatred, human rights, resistance and personal responsibility. (10 minutes)
    3. Act III is a live conversation led by Susan Stein. (20 minutes)
  2. Holocaust/Genocide (H/G)
    1. Reading Young People’s Diaries from the Holocaust

      (MS, HS+, H/G, Arts, Writing)

      In this workshop students encounter diarists their own age writing throughout Europe and see how personal context shapes one’s understanding of events. Doing close reading of writings by those imprisoned and those liberated and watching footage from the ghettos fosters empathy and helps participants understand the stages that lead to genocide.

    2. To Hide or Not to Hide: Ethical Dilemmas

      (MS, HS+, DEI, H/G, Writing)

      Like many Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe, Etty Hillesum chose not go into hiding. Delving into the writings of Anne Frank, Etty, and others, this workshop explores the choiceless choices Jews faced.

    3. Standing up to Power

      (MS, HS+, DEI, H/G, Writing)

      Throughout history, people have used writing, speaking, and even walking to stand in truth to face power. This workshop explores different ways people have used their voices and their everyday actions to challenge forces that seem larger than themselves.

    4. The Warsaw Ghetto and Ringelblum Archive

      (MS, HS+, DEI, H/G, Writing)

      The underground archive of the Warsaw Ghetto was created by a clandestine group of people of all ages and occupations who vowed to defeat Nazi propaganda by detailing everyday life in the ghetto. Participants explore this incredible act of resistance here, in other ghettos, and transit camps through close reading, writing, and discussion.

    5. Museums and Memory

      (MS, HS+, DEI, H/G, Arts, Writing)

      These commemoratives frame our history and memory. Participants explore the decisions made in shaping the story each wants to tell, examining choices from architectural design, location, and display to decisions about what is included and what is omitted.

    6. Going to the Movies

      (MS, HS+,H/G, Arts, Writing)

      Film can be an invaluable and user-friendly tool for understanding the Holocaust when students learn how to watch. Students become active and engaged participants and film critics to consider how a scene or sequence relates to the big picture, the story the film tells, and the argument it is making about this dark history. Excerpts are drawn from historical footage, documentaries, and fiction.

  3. DEI, Anti-Racism, Social Justice (DEI)
    1. Slave Narratives

      (MS, HS+, DEI, Arts, Writing)

      Using slave narratives by Harriet Jacobs, Frederick Douglass, Margaret Garner, and others in addition to art by Bill Traylor, students explore questions of where freedom comes from and how these narratives are part of American history.

    2. Bearing Witness: Civil Rights, Racial and Social Justice

      (HS+, DEI, Writing)

      Students read and study speeches and writings by Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglass, Bill Traylor, Ta-Nahesi Coates, and Claudia Rankine through the lens of the current moment to understand how slavery in the United States and the Jim Crow era inform today.

    3. Timeless voices

      (HS+, DEI, Writing)

      Compelling orators Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Malcolm X, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and others addressed the challenges of their times. Close readings offer students an opportunity to understand the power of language to make change.

    4. Letters from Prison

      (MS, HS+, DEI, Writing)

      Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote his Letter from the Birmingham Jail in 1963. A generation earlier, Etty Hillesum wrote her Letter from Westerbork concentration camp in the Netherlands. Reading these side-by-side along with other letters written from prisons, participants consider the choice to love not hate, the commitment to non-violence, and the power of bearing witness from behind bars. This workshop explores how those incarcerated used language in pursuit of freedom, justice, and resistance.

    5. Japanese Internment Camps

      (MS, HS+, DEI, Arts, Writing)

      Students learn about this chapter in American history during WWII through close readings in several genres, including fiction, graphic novels, film, art, and survivor testimonies that stimulate discussion. Students combine their imaginations and critical thinking to explore the relevance today.

    6. Hate is Not the Solution

      (MS, HS+, H/G, Writing)

      Etty Hillesum committed herself to rooting out the hatred inside herself as the first and most important step in building a better world. Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. share her commitment to non-violence. This workshop explores the choice to resist hatred and affirm the human spirit in the face of injustice.

    7. Between Worlds: Artists, Athletes, and Writers

      (HS+, DEI, Writing)

      Considering the work of such people as Ta-Nehisi Coates, Ibram X. Kendi, Bill Traylor, Claudia Rankine, Kara Walker, Glenn Ligon, and Serena Williams, this workshop explores the way some straddle multiple worlds of gender, race, genre, and culture and challenges assumptions of race.

    8. Monuments, Memorials, and Museums

      (MS, HS+, DEI, H/G, Arts, Writing)

      What story do commemorative works tell? Students examine choices from architectural design, location, and display to decisions about what is included and what is omitted in such public memorializations as the Lincoln Memorial, statues of army generals, National Museum of African American History and Culture and more.

  4. Close Reads and Writing (Writing)
    1. Writing as Resistance

      (MS, HS+, H/G, Writing)

      This workshop considers writing as a form of defiance. Participants consider primary source documents from different historical moments that bear witness to injustice.

    2. Paired Texts

      (MS,HS+, DEI, Writing)

      Reading texts side-by-side brings them into conversation and invites participants to compare, analyze, and consider how writings from different period and genres address similar themes and how context shapes perspective.

    3. Texts in the Spotlight

      HS+, DEI, H/G, Arts, Writing)

      These workshops focus on literature and texts currently taught as part of a school’s curriculum, providing context and creative exercises to pull back the curtain on challenging aspects of each work. Etty Project Teaching Artists work directly with teachers to facilitate difficult conversations and help students come to recognize their own agency. Workshops have focused on:

      Memoir and Diaries
      Coates, Ta-Nehisi Between the World and Me
      Douglass, Frederick Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave
      Filipovic, Zlata Zlata’s Diary
      Frank, Anne The Diary of Anne Frank
      Jacobs, Harriet Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
      Wamariya, Clemantine The Girl Who Smiled Beads
      Wiesel, Eile Night
      Yousafzai, Malala I am Malala
      Zapruder, Alexandra ed. Salvaged Pages: Young Writers’ Diaries of the Holocaus
      Applegate, Katherine Home of the Brave
      Fitzerald, F. Scott The Great Gatsby
      Gantz, Alan Refugee
      Hurston, Zora Neale Their Eyes Were Watching God
      Kertesz, Imre Fatelessness
      Otsuka, Julie When the Emperor was Divine
      Twain, Mark Huck Finn
      Dramatic Fiction
      Fugard, Athol Master Harold…and the boys
      Hansberry, Lorraine Raisin in the Sun
      Kaufman, Moises and the Tectonic Theater Project The Laramie Project
      Nottage, Lynn Ruined
      Shakespeare, William: Merchant of Venice, Othello, Tempest, and others
      Poetry in Hell poetry from the Ringelblum archive
      Rankine, Claudia Citizen: An American Lyric
      Graphic Novels
      Lewis, John March trilogy
      Okubo, Mine Citizen 13660
      Satrapi, Marjane Persepolis
      Spiegelman, Art Maus I, Maus II
    4. Unpacking Poetry

      (MS, HS+, Arts, Writing)

      This workshop invites participants to be alert to what is hidden in ordinary language and dive deeply into voice and tone, as they read, recite, and create original poems that can be publicly displayed, adding their voices to the mosaic that is our American tapestry. Poets include: Audre Lorde, Langston Hughes, William Carlos Williams, Amanda Gorman, and more.

    5. Author Your Life: Writing Memoir

      (MS, HS+, Writing)

      Through writing prompts and exercises, participants begin to identify their voice and write the stories they’ve heard, the everyday stories of what they see in their daily lives, in speech, in overheard conversations. Class discussions explore elements of craft such as character, description, dialogue and pacing. Participants will have a clearer understanding of the art of memoir and a variety of tools to explore and express their own voices and stories in their writing.

  5. Arts-Based Classes (Arts)
    • Songs from Ghettos and Concentration Camps

      (MS, HS+, DEI, H/G, Arts)

      Song has accompanied the history of the Jewish people. The Holocaust was no exception. Participants learn melodies and words and sing pieces of songs of joy and of sorrow that Jews sang in the ghettos and concentration camps. Through singing these beautiful melodies, participants are invited into the soul of a people.

    • Songs of Resistance

      (MS, HS+, DEI, H/G, Arts)

      Participants learn an original song in its native language to understand the power of resistance, suffering, the human spirit, and hope that singing together in a group provides. Examples include: songs sung by enslaved people during American slavery, and a cattle song sung by the lost boys of South Sudan, songs from the ghettos and partisan fighters of Europe during WWII.

    • Civil Rights: Art and Music

      (MS, HS+, DEI, Arts)

      This workshop brings the art and music of the civil rights era into students’ voices and bodies to explore the power of art to inspire and address the often violent struggle for freedom. Students explore the paintings of Jacob Lawrence and Bill Traylor, the songs of Nina Simone and Joan Baez, historical photographs, Spike Lee’s documentary of the 1963 Birmingham church bombing, the speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. and more.

    • Artists of the Harlem Renaissance

      (MS, HS+, DEI, Arts)

      This workshop brings the art and music of the civil rights era into students’ voices and bodies to explore the power of art to inspire and address the often violent struggle for freedom. Students explore the paintings of Jacob Lawrence and Bill Traylor, the songs of Nina Simone and Joan Baez, historical photographs, Spike Lee’s documentary of the 1963 Birmingham church bombing, the speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. and more.

    • From Page to Stage

      (MS, HS+, Arts, Writing)

      This workshop introduces the process of adapting non-theatrical writing to live performance by turning diaries, journals, and narrative prose into a script. Students learn techniques for turning literature into theater and performing for an audience.