Tuesday, November 3, 2020

TAKE TEN with Silvie Heyman, author of BEYOND THE HOLOCAUST (2020)

by Cyrus Webb

For those who have ever struggled with where they belong in the world BEYOND THE HOLOCAUST by Sylvie Heyman will speak to you. The book chronicles not just her physical journey. It takes you into how she was able to move forward past her own personal challenges and thrive. Enjoy our conversation. 

  Sylvie, I had a chance to speak with you on Conversations LIVE the radio show, and we’re glad to share your story with our readers. First of all, what has it been like for you to share your personal story with the world in BEYOND THE HOLOCAUST?
Memoirs are, most often, stories that involve some kind of challenge in one’s life, and usually, too painful to disclose and difficult to verbalize. After all, why write a story where everything goes well and everyone is happy. 

    For me, sharing my personal story unleashed emotions that I had repressed for years and it gave me the opportunity to revisit those hidden experiences and find gratitude for what I had learned.

  I love how the book is a mixture of your family, life lessons and your own growth. Did you know it was going to include all of those components when you started it?
No, I did not. I didn’t know what I was going to write after the third chapter, before my arrival to the United States. I didn’t want this to be “just” about my life. After all, everybody has a story; and stories about refugees - both from persecution of long ago wars and present ones - are never scarce.  

    My goal was to raise awareness of the struggles of immigrants beyond the initial stage of survival. 

    Most importantly, I wanted to pay special attention to the trials and tribulations of adolescent immigrants, already in a vulnerable phase of self questioning and searching for answers, and how they cope in a new country, learning a new language and new customs.  I included studies of developmental psychologists, linguist specialists, and the PTSD issues that this group is particularly prone to.

To have achieved all that you have it might surprise readers how much you questioned yourself along your journey. What was that like for you to reflect on how you became the person you are today?
Questioning is part of growth. My experiences forced me to focus on those aspects of my life, which felt like a void, and find solutions for making it meaningful. 

  We mentioned in our conversation on the radio about the lessons from your father. Do you find those still a part of your daily mission?
Indeed they are. I live much of my life following his teachings. I fulfill my obligations first before embarking on the privileges of life.  I am always on guard not to make myself important even though the work that I do may be important.  I show respect for every human being even if I don’t like them. 

   History is something you have lived. Do you think that contributes to your love of it?
I only love history when it teaches me something.

   What keeps you curious about the world at this point in your life?
More than curious, I am keenly aware of how fast the world is evolving and how easy it is to forget the horrors of persecution, having one’s human rights stripped away, and the ugliness of prejudice and hate.

  Writing a book is one thing. Sharing it is definitely another. Social media is a world we are both a part of. What has that been like for you to share your message that way?
Social media has allowed me to reach people I might have otherwise never met. In fact, someone who read my posts about the book contacted me because she, and her twin, were two characters I mentioned in one of the chapters. She was thrilled that they had been so instrumental in making me feel more at ease by their friendship.

   Sylvie, what do you hope readers of BEYOND THE HOLOCAUST take away from it?
I hope that the reader will better understand the challenges that immigrants face as they assimilate to a new culture, having to learn a new language and adapt to new customs. 

Any advice for those who have always thought they had a story they wanted to share?
Don’t be afraid to start the writing process. If you feel that sharing your story will inspire the reader and convey a message that will benefit them or the world at large, do it!

   Thanks so much for your time, Sylvie. Glad to help spread the word about the book. How can our readers stay connected with you?
I look forward to interacting on social media Facebook at www.facebook.com/sylvie.heyman.3, Instagram at www.instagram.com/heydrsylvie, Linkedin and Twitter at www.twitter.com/heymansylvie

 I invite my reader to visit my website sylvieheyman.com and sign up for my newsletters for updates on my books.

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