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Gibson Ek Internship Leads to Holocaust Center Honor

Holocaust Center on display. Cammie Allen, a student created the project.

Visitors to the Holocaust Center for Humanity in Seattle can view not only historical artifacts and accounts, but also current stories about young people who are making a difference – such as Gibson Ek sophomore Cammie Allen.

Among just five young activists honored this month during the unveiling of the center’s Upstanders Wall, Cammie was recognized for her community impact, including organizing a supply drive for refugees, designing a classroom presentation with a Rwandan genocide survivor, and participating in the center’s Student Leadership Board. Cammie interned with the center as a GEHS freshman.

After she spoke to the audience at the ceremony, “people were coming up to me and saying I give them hope for the future. It meant so much to me to think that because of the things I’m doing, I’m making an impact.” 

Paul Regelbrugge, the center’s director of education and Cammie’s internship mentor, marveled at Cammie’s accomplishments at her age.

“Most college students we know couldn’t match her ingenuity and work ethic,” he said as he introduced her to the audience. “She’s unbelievable.”

Gibson Ek Principal Julia Bamba agrees. “I get to see the incredible work that Cammie is doing here on campus daily, but to learn about her impact in our community gives me chills.”

As a ninth-grader, Cammie reached out to the Holocaust Center for Humanity for an internship because she had a general interest in history and social justice. Gibson Ek students spend two days a week interning at regional businesses and organizations.

“I thought it would be more focused on just helping around the museum,” she says, “but it ended up being much more educational and so much more impactful.”

Initially, Cammie worked remotely on an interview with Emmanuel Turaturanye, a survivor of the genocide in Rwanda, with close support from her mentor, Paul. But as she impressed Paul and the staff with her hard work and maturity, they gave her more challenging and public tasks, such as assisting with field trips, editing their survivors' encyclopedia on the website, and carefully scanning and sorting through archival documents -- with gloves on.

“I was literally learning about people’s lives through their letters and documents,” she says. “It was super interesting.” 

And the interview and storytelling process with Emmanuel and Paul went so well that she was asked to help create and co-lead a presentation of his story, which they shared virtually last year with classes at several middle and high schools, and are sharing soon with a class at Pacific Lutheran University. Cammie delivers the history portion of the presentation, and then Emmanuel tells his story as a Q&A with Paul.

“This is why I love our program so much,” Julia says. “Seeing Cammie inspiring others through work that is important to her is the most incredible educational experience we could hope to provide for our young people.”

Cammie says the GEHS internship program provided an opportunity most students don’t experience in high school. 

Because I go to Gibson Ek, I get to work with professionals,” says Cammie, who is hoping to study political science or history in college. “Being able to be involved in a professional setting where they are so focused on making the world a better place – it really helped me cement my passion for those subjects.”

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