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More About Our History

Robbie Shackelford Director of Harding University in Florence (HUF) read my book and immediately included it as part of the curriculum in Harding's Study Abroad program. Robbie takes the students to Campagna, a small mountain village hidden in a valley an hour outside of Naples. They visit the Holocaust Museum, Museo della Memoria e della Pace, located in the former San Bartolomeo concentration camp, which was in a former convent.


The impact on the students was profound- they learned a positive lesson from an otherwise dark period of time. They saw examples of the choices people made to be the difference, how individual actions can change history, even save lives.


Robbie invited me to speak to his students in Florence and Arkansas and a wonderful friendship was born. My desire and vision, coupled with Robbie’s experience, created a unique project for students using World War II as an event and time frame.


Robbie and I traveled to Poland on January 27, 2015, to attend the 70th Anniversary Commemoration of the Liberation of Auschwitz, the notorious Nazi death camp. Over 300 people who survived the atrocities in Auschwitz, all over 85 years old, returned on that bitter cold day. Their goal-to ensure people never forget what happened to them, their families, their friends, their neighbors. Their hope- never again should such horrors occur.

Mr. Roman Kent, a survivor, was a keynote speaker. He knows the consequences of others being bystanders. He said, If I had the power, I would add an 11th Commandment to the universally accepted 10 Commandments-you should never, ever be a bystander...He asked people to take action, because when we do not, evil wins. - added the quote and a PDF of The NY Times article in the Learn More button directly below this.

That evening, Zdenko Bergl, Link Needed. a Holocaust survivor saved in Italy, sent me an email of all of the
American Military Cemeteries located in Europe. At the end of his message it says, 103,980 BRAVE AMERICANS are buried in Europe. 20,308 are listed as Missing in Action. How many French, Dutch, Italians, Belgians and Brits are buried on our soil...after defending us against our enemies?


When I showed the email to Robbie- we knew we found our project! We gave students an assignment to research an individual American soldier buried in the American Cemetery in Florence, find out who they were before they were a soldier, and remember his or her sacrifice.


Robbie introduced me to Michael Wright, Director of European Programs for Duquesne University. The 
Duquesne in Rome program is involved in a cultural exchange program with a local Italian high school,
I.I.C. Einstein-Bachelet and Be the Difference- Never Again​.

Two American students are paired with two Italian high school students and assigned a soldier buried at the 
Sicily-Rome American Cemetery at Nettuno (Anzio). The students research the stories of their individual soldier and visit the cemetery and create a memorial service to honor those who sacrificed their lives to liberate Italy. Additionally, through this unique intercultural experience, many friendships were created. The program became part of Duquesne’s Intercultural Awareness class, a requirement of all study abroad students. 

The Harding and Duquesne University students also visit Campagna and the Jewish Ghetto in Rome.

The Be the Difference- Never Again project is rich with possibilities. Not only is it a program that touches students deeply while abroad, but it helps each student to be a better American upon their return. Students find a new respect for Memorial Day and Veterans Day. They realize that these are not simply moments for a day off from school, a barbeque, or discounts at department stores/online shopping, but the days are connected to the sacrifice of people who made a difference. Our mission statement: To teach about individuals who risked their lives to save others and inspire people to take action. Each person, every action, large or small can make a difference is an essential message for all to remember.

Your Opportunity to Be the Difference - Keeping this or deleting? I don't think it is needed based on the two sentences below.
You too can Be the Difference by making a choice to be an upstander in life. Remember people who made a difference and let their actions inspire you.

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