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Third Intern from Holocaust and Genocide Studies Joins Auschwitz Institute

August 9, 2013
Eleni Guptill
Eleni Guptill

For the third consecutive year, the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR) a New York-based organization dedicated to building a worldwide network of leaders with the professional tools and the personal commitment to prevent genocide, has accepted an intern from Keene State’s Holocaust and Genocide Studies program. This year, it is junior Eleni Guptill. The Auschwitz Institute invites government policymakers, military leaders, and NGO activists, through its core program, the Raphael Lemkin Seminar for Genocide Prevention to the former Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland to teach them to recognize the signs of genocide and use their influence to stop it. The prestigious internship is very competitive, and offers a rare opportunity to one of our finest students.

Professor and Cohen Chair for Holocaust and Genocide Studies Jim Waller serves as an AIPR affiliated scholar and an instructor at the Lemkin Seminar. "AIPR typically hosts three summer interns, but KSC is the only school with a standing agreement that one of those three will always be one of our students," Dr. Waller explained. This arrangement is due in part to Dr. Waller's credentials with the Institute, to the respect the AIPR has for our Holocaust and Genocide Studies program (still the only such undergraduate major in the US), and to the fact that the Institute has found the KSC interns so well prepared for the work. "We’re looking for a student with maturity, responsibility, and initiative—and they need to be able to work in a fast-paced environment with frequent meetings with national and international leaders in genocide and mass-atrocity prevention," Dr. Waller said. "Basically, we want a student who will do honor to KSC by the work they do at AIPR."

KSC sent its first intern, Kelsey Mogell ’12 to AIPR in 2011. "It was a thrill and an honor to be chosen to be the first intern from Keene State to work with the Auschwitz Institute," said Mogell, who came to Keene as a transfer student in her junior year specifically to participate in the Holocaust and Genocide major. "My first day at Keene State—my very first class—was Dr. Waller’s Genocide course. … He told us about his work with the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation; I was inspired and knew that I had to get an internship with the organization."

"I learned a lot that summer about myself and what I want to do with the knowledge I possess," Mogell explained. "I’ll be moving out to Colorado in August to begin pursuing my masters in International Human Rights at the Joseph Korbel School for International Studies at the University of Denver … My ultimate goal is to affect change in the way we handle genocide prevention as global citizens. The work that AIPR does truly inspired me."

In 2012, KSC sent Steven LePage ’12 as its second intern to AIPR. "The internship with AIPR was a perfect capstone to my degree in Holocaust and Genocide Studies," LePage recalled. "It reinforced my desire to enter into politics. ... and bolstered my belief that no matter the odds, if we try hard enough, we can accomplish great things by fostering relationships and promoting coexistence."

Guptill is working at AIPR’s New York City office for six weeks this summer and then probably joining Dr. Waller for for the Global Diplomats seminar in Poland the first week of December. "This internship really means a lot to me, because I feel like I can finally begin to apply all the information I've learned in my HGS courses through professors like Dr. Waller and Dr. Vincent in a setting that is outside of the classroom," she said. "Being involved with such a great organization as the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation really makes me feel like I could help to make a difference with my major in the future. While with the Auschwitz Institute, I hope to experience what it’s like to work in the Holocaust and Genocide Studies field, and also gain insight on my studies to help me over my next two years at Keene State College. After graduation, I would love to work as a curator for a museum, focusing on the Holocaust."

There's no doubt Guptill's work at AIPR will shine. "I’m very selective about who we place with AIPR, but Eleni meets all of the qualifications," Dr. Waller said. "She’s bright, responsible, personable, and dedicated. I have no doubt she will do our department and our College proud!"