In 2019, Abigail Stephens ’26 was a first-year student at Canyon High School in Anaheim when her poem, “My Enemy, My Friend”, won first place in Chapman University’s Holocaust Art & Writing Contest. This year, Stephens — who is now a history major at Chapman — will serve as a judge for the contest’s 25th anniversary.
For Stephens, the highlight of the whole experience is the opportunity to interact with Holocaust survivors and educators. Those conversations have helped her to see survivors not just as statistics or as their stories of trauma, but as people who have built fully-rounded lives post-tragedy.
“I could really sit down and talk to them about what they’re doing now,” she said. “Talk about what they like to do. I talked with one of the survivors about how we both swam every day, and I was talking to another woman … about how she hates salad …That’s one of the first things I learned. These people are humans, and not just a story.”