A years-long correspondence and fund-raiser is about to pay off for a group of Long Beach students as they prepare to meet 15-year-old Zlata Filipovic, whose widely published diary provided a child's perspective on war-torn Sarajevo.
The weeklong visit will begin with a dinner Sunday night in Newport Beach, when Filipovic is scheduled to meet the students of a popular world literature course at Wilson High School. Through raffles and other events, the students and their parents raised air fare from Europe for Filipovic and her immediate family.
Filipovic's diary, with its details of a violent Serbian siege, was required reading for the class, which focuses on young people taking a stand against injustice. Earlier this month they met Miep Gies, the Dutch woman who helped hide the family of Anne Frank during the Holocaust.
"I chose books by a teenage author for a teenage audience, not realizing that [the students] were going to meet the actual authors," teacher Erin Gruwell said.
The class plans to show documentaries on the Holocaust, and a trip to the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance.