I woke up at about 6:30 a.m and worked out for approximately 8 minutes. It was short but meaningful. At 8: a.m. the regional consultants from San Diego (me), Chicago, New York, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Ukraine, France and the administration team met to discuss regional challenges and goals for disseminating the use of survivor testimony around the world. It was great to hear from the other consultants, and I definitely left the training with a new found direction for my outreach in San Diego county. The remainder of the afternoon was spent prepping for the program participants' arrival (teachers and students). We filled swag bags, set up the registration table, etc. and eventually greeted the teachers as they arrived from the airport.
My secondary responsibility was to greet and assist a Holocaust Survivor. I will not include the name because I am not sure if I am allowed to share that information, I will just say P. In any event, I met her as she entered the lobby, checked her into her room, took her bags and led her to her room. Her personality is magnetic and I could have stayed with her all day! P. survived Auschwitz and she will speak to students and teachers during the program this week. I let her rest and then headed to the main room to register teachers and give them their swag bags, while trying not to covet the items that were in their swag bags! The group of teachers I am in charge of have been friendly and great thus far, and I am looking forward to getting to know them over the next few intense days. As it is their first night here, and the first night of the official educator program, it wasn't a prolonged evening. After an hour of introductions, expectations, and logistics, it was time for dinner.
I left my group to head up stairs to get P. and escort her down to dinner. Dinner was delicious, but that is probably because I love to eat. At one point the waiter tried to take my plate and I shot him the "Blackmamba look" that my students know so well, and he backed off. After dinner, it was my job to make sure that P. was ok and not being harassed or overwhelmed in any way. Then I took her back to her room where she hugged and kissed me and said goodnight. :)
At 9 p.m. we had a staff meeting to prepare for tomorrow and go over logistics. Tomorrow is the first official day of the Educator Program so we all need to bring our A game. This did not stop me from suggesting that we explore the place next door to the hotel because I am a fan of cultural exploration. It turned out to be a casino/restaurant/dance club! Hello Poland! Of course I needed to partake in various aspects, purely for cultural reasons. As a humanities teacher, it is my duty to explore Polish cultural practices and I must say it was a unique and positive experience. We decided to sit at the roulette table and see where it took us. For some reason, when you are playing with foreign money, it doesn't seem like real money, so I think something happens psychologically that does not allow you to properly manage risk. (I may need to confirm this with a Biology teacher.) I won't go into the back and forth of the whole night, but when I put my final chips out there, one was on 0 and, you guessed it, it hit zero! With 35 to 1 odds, I was rolling in dough! (Well, like $20-$30 bucks, but still!). My first thought was, I'm gonna buy my students something with this money! My second thought was, what can I buy 63 students that will fit in my suitcase? I will keep thinking.
But that wasn't even the best part of the night. The music switched to Brazilian music and these dancers came out and performed and you know Mama Clark had to dance too! IT WAS AWESOME! The crowd went wild! Well, in my head they did. In reality, they were probably like, who is this woman? We weren't allowed to take any pictures in the casino, but trust that it was an experience like no other.
It was actually a nice release because from here on out the tone of the trip will change because, as I mentioned the program begins and our first site visit is The Museum of the History of Polish Jews here in Warsaw. We will hold all of tomorrow's workshops there as well so that we can engage with the space in an authentic way. I am looking forward to the official start to this historic journey.
It's 12:32 a.m now and I have to be up by 6:00 to be ready for the staff meeting at 7:00, so I will say until next time...
Make Smart Choices,
Michelle Sadrena Clark
Do they all speak english or is there a translator? Or more than one translator?
My dad used to hiss at people when they tried to take his plate away... a grown man hissing at an innocent waitress...
Its honestly amazing to hear you experience the Polish culture and also to tell us about it. You work that dance floor mrs. clark!!
Everyone in the program speaks English, but not everyone in Poland speaks English. I found that out when I was trying to buy this present for you guys. But I don't mind, I should have made more of an effort to learn some Polish, but just got too busy. :)
I would love to hear your dad's hiss!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.