Thursday, May 30, 2013

May 29- It's an experience!

During our last class of the trip, Jen asked what we would say when our friends and family asked us about the trip-- could we say it was fun and we enjoyed ourselves when we went to 4 different labor/extermination camps? The consensus seemed to be that the best way to describe the trip was eye-opening.  It's true that we did go to Nazi concentration camps where death penetrates every corner and surface.  However, throughout the trip, we also celebrated life and the culture of these people when we had group dinners, saw Czech performances, or had traditional cuisine.  We all bonded and laughed as a group, which brought us as close as experiencing the suffering of victims of the Third Reich did.
The trip was first and foremost a class- we came on this trip to understand the devastation the Nazis brought when they were in power during the 20th century.  But we learned so much more than that. Many museums now focus on the entire history of the Jewish population instead of just the chapter that is the Holocaust.  With 4 Jewish people on the trip, the discussion about religion moved into daily conversation.  I personally learned more about Judaism and their culture/traditions than I had ever imagined.  This was just another facet that made the trip eye-opening.
I think I can speak for everyone when I say that this was the experience of a lifetime and one that will never be forgotten.  I'd like to than Dr Paces, Dr Rosa, TCNJ Global Engagement Center, and CEPA for making this trip possible.  They allowed us to experience a part of the world that we would never be able to experience in the states and bear witness to an awful tragedy that we can never allow to happen again.
--Sarah Ponsini

Here are some quotes from everyone about how they felt by the end of the trip:
Andrew: One of the coolest things was being able to have free time and walk independently throughout the cities.  Having the freedom to do as we want and have no other restrictions was an amazing feeling and experience.

Brittany: The best part of the trip was learning about different cultures and Jewish traditions.  It was also fun to ask deep questions and "would you rather" during free time. I learned so much about my fellow classmates.

Chelsea: Before this trip it was like we were going to the movies but we weren't allowed to see the screen... It's one thing to learn about the Holocaust but it's a completely different experience to bear witness to the atrocities.

Chris: These past two weeks have been some of the most memorable times of my life.. We all had the opportunity to see eye opening and also amazing things that I will always remember.

Emily: I came on this trip because I've always believed that in order to prevent another Holocaust we need to learn from the past, and it's mistakes.  This trip reaffirmed that belief and opened my eyes to how devastating the Holocaust really was.  I'm so glad I had this opportunity.  I have made amazing friends and gained an entirely new view on life.

Gabby: What I loved the most about the trip was the order that we went to the camps.  Each one built up the next one and Treblinka was great closure.  Amazing experience!

Joan: I hate to say that I had fun on such a serious trip, but I met some great people and learned so much that I could never have learned in a classroom.

Jenn F: These last two weeks have been some of the most adventurous, informative, exciting, emotional, and memorable weeks of my life.  I've met so may amazing people and gotten to experience so many things.  I've learned so much about the Holocaust and the culture of Central Europe.  This has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I'm so happy to have been a part of it.

Jonathan: This trip combined history, culture, and memory in an emotional format that was at times entertaining, moving, depressing and always memorable.

Lauren: My favorite parts of the trip were being able to immerse myself in the cultures of these cities and learn about the Jewish cultures.

Nicole: This was my first time out of the country and I loved the experience! I can't wait to travel more!

Sarah Hyman: I really enjoyed learning about the Jewish history of Warsaw, but also the history of all Poles during the mid 20th century.  I hope to come back to Warsaw with my family in the future to check out the new Jewish museum that is currently still in the works.

Susie: This was my first time in Europe and I really enjoyed the different cities.  My favorite tour was Ravensbruck. I didn't know such a place existed.  It was an amazing learning experience!

Warren: This was my first time to Eastern Europe.  It's very different than West Europe.  Now I have an appreciation for all European cultures and lifestyle!

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