Oh how I miss you all so much! It is difficult to be away from you this long, especially because I want you to experience everything that I'm experiencing! (Thank you Michele, Eli, and Abby for your thoughtful posts! I almost cried because I can't wait to see you all on Thursday! Hopefully many of you can come to my birthday party at the skating rink Friday.
So today we went to Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and we spent all of our time in Auschwitz I. To be honest it is too soon for me to post anything about this experience, but once I am able to properly reflect, I'll write something and share it with my babies (aka students). Needless to say, I have never experienced anything like it, and words will be insufficient to express the multitude of thoughts and emotions that overpowered me.
We ate lunch on the bus and returned to the hotel so that the 25 teachers and 13 students could have a time of reflection. I listened to part of the teacher reflection, but then had to leave for a staff meeting. It was difficult for teachers to reflect at first because, really, what can you say after being in a place where over a million human beings were murdered? One teacher shared a poem that she wrote on the bus ride back that I know my students would find powerful.
We then had to get dressed in nicer clothes to attend the survivor reception at a different hotel. This event has various layers of VIP, but the room we were in had drinks, refreshments, etc. And many survivors came and mingled with the crowd while several competing camera crews filmed conversations. I spent most of that time with a survivor named Manny Buchman, a Hungarian Jew who now lives in New Jersey. His wife was liberated from Auschwitz and he was liberated from Mauthausen. He shared so many stories about how he would out-wit the Nazi's, from jumping off trains, passing as a non-Jew, staying in the forest. He met his wife in Kindergarten and they re-connected after the war and have been married since 1956! He and his family also visited Auschwitz today, but he said it was too painful for his wife to enter the barracks, which is completely understandable. His beautiful granddaughter was with him and she is headed to university soon!
Various people spoke at the reception, and there were were dignitaries from various countries to honor the survivors, (I won't post here but you might be able look up who was there, online.) We left the reception and headed back to the hotel for dinner but the survivors and other VIP went to a special dinner.
After dinner, the regional consultant from New York, and the RC from Chicago wanted to walk around Krakow a little because for the first time we had free time! (It was because some of our staff was at the "big" dinner. So we went to Wawel Royal Castle. It was beautiful, especially in all of the snow! I have never been in this much snow for so many days in a row. It was like returning to a childhood that I've never had. I wanted to jump in it, make snow balls, (throw snowballs), and just focus on what is still good in the world. It was good to be outside, walking around. We hit up a grocery store so I could buy some local treats to bring back to my babies, and some gifts for colleagues, then headed back to the hotel.
Tomorrow, I get to sleep in until 6:45! So if I go to bed in the next 15 minutes, I will get 6 hours which I will need because tomorrow will be a long day. January 27th commemorates 70 years of liberation and we have to get to the commemoration ceremony super early and stand for hours in the snow but under a tent (heated tent? I'll let you know). It's all about layers and toe warmers at this point.
Love you all and will be home soon!
Until next time...
Make Smart Choices,
Michelle Sadrena Clark
Sounds like you are having a really eye-opening experience! I can't even imagine what Auschwitz was like, and I'm looking forward to that reflection. We miss you!
How much of Auschwitz is left? I am very interested in hearing what you have to say about it. Did all of the survivors go through the camp as well, if the could? I feel that an experience like that, walking through a death camp, would be too surreal to comprehend.
Man, I can only imagine what it must be like to have read and researched all about the horrors of Auschwitz and then have the chance to walk where millions have came in but never left alive. Ooohh inspirational poetry, I love all that good stuff. Wow, it must have been really nice to be able to listen to a survivor tell their tale and know that at least someone was able to make it out and become happy again. It must really feel gratifying to know and see first hand that the Nazis couldn't destroy everyone and everything.
I hope I'm not disturbing your sleep! I probably am but hey that was a great journal entry. I can't wait for tomorrows entry!
Mrs. Clark! You are experiencing something very special despite all the emotions you are feeling! We are so lucky that you are going to share your experiences with us once you get home! I have a feeling that what you share with us will be powerful throughout our whole lives!
I am so excited to see you tomorrow! I think right now you are on a flight to SD so hope all is safe and your return home is wonderful :)
That sounds amazing!! I hope you took plenty of pictures, young and responsible really misses you and your positive attitude! Tomorrow can't come soon enough!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.