California – Los Angeles: Museum of Tolerance

Miles Mistler

Miles Mistler has been working to preserve history in film by volunteering this summer at the Museum of Tolerance, a museum dedicated to Social Justice, as the lead editor on a video project documenting the stories of Holocaust survivors. A recent grad from UCLA, Miles finished in the spring of 2016 with a degree in English Literature and a minor in Film. Originally hailing from rural Northern California, he was happily surprised to find so much joy in the always-bustling city of Los Angeles.
 
Miles became interested in the museum after a close friend of his shared his positive experiences working at there. At the recommendation of his friend, Miles inquired about leading school tours through the museum, and it was during his volunteer interview that the museum took an interest in his skillset.
 
Miles’ interest in cinema has led him to be passionate about historical preservation through documentary film. At the Museum of Tolerance, Miles is busily editing footage from interviews with various Holocaust survivors who have been involved with the museum. The project began five years ago when the footage was first recorded, but without a skilled editor, the museum was forced to delay the project.
In the footage, survivors recount their experiences living during the Holocaust. Were it not for historical preservation work, first-hand record of events would have faded away after this generation and the children of tomorrow would not have a means to hear their stories. The stories of the interviewees speak volumes about the subject of social justice.
 

As Miles volunteers, he receives more in return. His time at the museum has increased his understanding of the value of service. His supervisor and various other employees for the museum have gone out of their way to express their gratitude for his efforts. With the progress of the project, Miles has expanded his understanding of empathy. A boy scout himself, Miles was shocked when he began editing footage from a survivor describing his removal from an outdoor scouting organization in Germany during Nazi governance. Miles grew deeply connected with the project, documenting the inspiring stories of these survivors.
 


 

It seems to be a series of coincidences that led Miles to this point. To Miles, the path to his current interests in civically-engaged documentaries seems only fitting. He has always been a community-minded individual and has volunteered in the past with organizations such as 826 LA, an afterschool tutoring program for children in kindergarten through 12th grade. Being at UCLA only strengthened his interest in generating positive historical impact through film. “UCLA is so diverse,” Miles explained, “and it prides itself on just being so cultural that being there with so many different people with different backgrounds and beliefs is inevitable. The university taught me the skills to work with diverse groups and share a mutual respect with everyone.”
 

His passion extends beyond the diversity aspect of the historical project he’s working on; Miles has found purpose in working for the museum. When asked about the influence UCLA has had on his philanthropy, Miles shared that since being at UCLA, he’s “realized his privilege to study at renowned university,” and that he’s “been inspired by so many great educators and peers. It makes me want to give back for receiving so much after all this time at school. Even though I’ve only been here for four years and I am going to be leaving for the next chapter of my life, I plan to keep giving back to Los Angeles.”
 

By sharing his experience, Miles hopes that others get involved with the museum. He suggests that individuals who haven’t yet should make the trip to the Museum of Tolerance and take a full day to carefully explore the exhibits. He explains that there are many social justice issues to learn about in the museum and that it has the power to change one’s perspective of the world we live in.
Miles is especially thankful for the scholarship awarded to him by the UCLA Center for Jewish Studies. The Sarah and Eugene Zinn Scholarships he received provided assistance with tuition, housing, and certain expenses related to the project. He’s inspired by the enthusiasm and care his supervisors Elana Samuels and Emily Thompson give to their work.
 
To learn more about the Museum of Tolerance, visit their website.

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