Each year, the Ida S. Kramer Essay contest calls upon students from the Quad Cities area to write an essay on the life of an individual who lived through the Holocaust. This essay requires the students to reflect on the life of the individual and convey why that story is so special to them personally. IRIS exchange student Noor Ul Ain was honored this month as the second place winner of the 2017 contest for her essay entitled “Marion-The Lady Who Inspired Me”.

For Noor (a 2016-2017 Pakistani exchange student living in Davenport, Iowa) the subject matter was entirely new.

“Before coming here, and before writing this essay I had no idea what the Holocaust was. I was a little familiar with the Jewish religion but not much of that either. It’s not a talked about topic in my country…It still gives me goosebumps to think about the book that I read. I can not imagine how hard it must have been.”

Noor crafted her award-winning essay around a woman named Marion Blumenthal. Marion lived through the horrors of the concentration camps as a small child. After escaping the ruins of Nazi Germany, she and her family moved to Peoria, Illinois, then eventually to New York where she resides today. Marion has spent her life spreading awareness about her experiences.

Marion is more than the topic of a paper, to Noor she is an inspiration. The legacy of her life’s work is something that Noor greatly admires. One day, she hopes to leave behind a similar legacy by educating people about her own religion and the customs of Islam.

“I want to tell people about the problems that the people of my religion face and how they are important. I don’t have much ideas about how I will do it, but being an exchange student and ambassador of my country and religion is a very good first step.”

Noor was inspired to apply for the contest at the urge of Quad Cities community member and member of the Holocaust Education Board, Deb Bowen.  Deb said in regards to Noor,

“Noor has told me repeatedly that she would be willing to do anything that would build her leadership skills. I’m very proud of her as I love her enthusiasm.”

If you are interested in hosting a go-getter like Noor this fall, contact John Jordan at yessupport@iris-center.org.

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