Friday, April 6, 2012

Day 13 Krakow

Today we spent the day with our guide, Ewa, walking and learning the history of Krakow and the Wawel Castle district. Despite the drizzle and cold, we walked up the hill to Wawel.

Our first stop is the palace, where our guide shows us beautiful tapestries that were created in Belgium. She points out that the elaborate tapestries took one year to weave each square meter. The tapestries fill the walls of the ornate palace of the Polish nobility. During World War II, when the Nazis used this as their headquarters in Poland, the palace was the home of Hans Frank, the Governor-General of occupied Poland.

We enter the basement of Wawel Cathedral, and silently walk through the burial place of Polish kings and rulers. We visit downstairs, underneath the cathedral, and view the sarcophagus of Lech Kaczynski and his wife, who were killed in the plane crash in Russia in 2010 on their way to the first Polish-Russian commemoration to the atrocities of Katyn that took place during World War II.

From here, we walked down the hill toward Jagellonian University, the oldest university in Poland. We enter into a guided tour of this place, where students once included Copernicus and John Paul II.

From here, we go back to the square, and enjoy an afternoon that includes lunch and shopping for souvenirs from beautiful, hospitable Krakow.

Final Reflections - Holocaust Study Tour 2012

Gabi says:
I found myself on this trip. I see the true meaning of life, love and happiness. There is no way anyone can tolerate ignorance after this experience.

Allison says:
This trip was an extraordinary experience. It helped open my eyes and view certain situations from a different perspective. You must remain open minded to learn and accept new knowledge.

Devanni says:
This experience was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I was able to learn more being in these countries than I could ever learn from reading books. With all the knowledge I have gained, I hope to educate others and share all this information.

Gabrielle says:
I learned on this trip that every action counts. The first action starts a chain reaction and what happens is determined by the next person. Now, I will always think my choices through.

Megan says:
This trip was a life changing experience. The Holocaust became so much more real for me and was brought to life in so many ways. I also gained so many new friends and learned so much more about who I am.

Hannah S. says:
This trip taught me so many thins about human beings. It has shown me that is does not take bad people to do awful things, rather it takes people not standing up for what they believe in to allow things like the Holocaust to happen. I can take this as a lesson to always stand up for what I believe in.

Kristina says:
This eye-opening experience has challenged me to comprehend the minds of the monsters involved in the years of planning the Holocaust. Systematic mass murder is an incomprehensible act that can only be taken into place by people who hold a skewed vision of authority. I have learned that it only takes one disturbed mastermind to create and uphold an army of puppets who target is to destroy mankind.

Amanda says:
Being on this trip for the last two weeks completely changed my view of humanity and how the human mind works. Mr. Barmore perfectly stated that there is no such thing as evil or crazy people; everyone has the ability to do these kinds of things. Once you realize the potential everyone has to do either good or bad, you realize how scary the world really is.

Sarah says:
This trip gave places meaning and gave nameless people faces. It made all my knowledge of the Holocaust come together and it gave me a better perspective of the horrors of the Holocaust. It really showed me the best and the worst of humanity.

Vanessa says:
This trip caused me to appreciate the talents and freedoms I have. Learning about the restrictions placed upon Jews during the Holocaust, in particular music which I am passionate about, really caused me to appreciate my talents and freedoms in this are much more.

Flori says:
This experience was very special to me. I learned so much not only about the Holocaust, but about myself. I learned that people have the same feelings, needs and wants regardless of their background.

Hannah C. says:
Like most teenagers, I have times in my life when I think I have it really bad. Going on this trip, however, gave me a new perspective on reality- my life is quite wonderful when you compare it to the dehumanization, destruction and isolation the Holocaust brought about.

Samantha says:
This experience has made me truly understand the importance of learning about these atrocities. All that I have learned in the past two weeks will be carried with me and spoken about for a very long time. I feel this is key since Holocaust survivors won't live forever and I will be able to pass their stories along to future generations.

Callie says:
Experience the HST has given new value to the relationships I have with my family. I have realized the importance of inheriting wisdom from our ancestors because without their knowledge we will make the same mistakes. I have also learned to love and appreciate my family regardless of circumstances because every moment counts.

Alyssa S. says:
Through this trip I learned to appreciate the bonds I have with family. In the camps people were forced to sever bonds of family which made me see the value of unity with each other. After this trip I will honor and value the time I spend with family and friends much more.

Tyler says:
This trip has affected me by helping me to show my emotions better. I used to hold my emotions in and not say anything to anyone about them, but I feel that I can open up more now about issues that matter.

Aidan says:
During my experience studying the Holocaust in Europe, I realized just how important it was for the Jewish people to keep faith in God. Although the Nazis dehumanized the Jews during the Holocaust, many Jews were able to keep their faith, regardless of the horrendous persecution they were facing. A person's faith makes each individual unique and cannot be taken away, no matter how awful one's situation may be.

Alyssa L. says:
The Holocaust Study Tour experience taught me about what the world can become if we live as bystanders. It is not always easy to stand up and say no, but if more people stand up for basic human rights, human beings might be able to survive with dignity and freedom; two things that victims of the Holocaust lost.

Ben says:
This Holocaust trip made me knowledgeable about how people who have authority in society can exclude others who may be "different". In reality people should be equal, but when those in power choose to degrade others, people act hurt and as in the Holocaust death camps emerged killings millions of innocent people.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Day 12 Krakow


Our day began in the Jewish Quarter, Kazmierz. Shalmi gave us the history of why large numbers of Jews came to Poland in the 16th century when they were invited by the aristrocracy. Jews came here and formed communities called shtetls in the rural, mostly unpopulated areas. Jews provided capital for the seeds that needed to be planted, and also had a monopoly on the sale of vodka. According to Shalmi, Poles really like alcohol, so this became very lucrative. Jews became the tools of the nobility, who didn't like them, but needed them. However, this put the Jews in a precarious position with the local serfs, who were Catholic.

The Jews were central in the advancement of this area; they were necessary, not liked, but tolerated. As the middle ages progressed, Jews came to this area in huge numbers. For Jews, Poland was a land of opportunity. Unlike the Jews in Germany and Prague, the Jews here did not assimilate; they acculturated. By 1919, this caused problems with Poles who wanted to be identified by their nationality, and did not see Jews as a part of their nation, but instead saw them as outsiders. By 1939 in Poland, because of many factors, including a bad economy, the Poles have a very grave relationship with all minorities here, including the Jews, who represent 10% of the population. Because so many Jews lived in the heart of big cities, the population of Jews in these city centers, their presence is felt more by the non-Jewish residents. Some helped Jews, some killed Jews, but most were bystanders who saw the Nazi actions during the Holocaust as solving a Polish problem.

Inside the Stara Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter, also known as the Old Synagogue because it was built in 1407, Shalmi taught us about the history of Hasidism, a part of Judaism that reflects emotional piety of the people who practice it. Jews here were visible, because of their Hasidism, and kept their religious practices, which also set them apart. They closed their businesses on Saturdays because of the Sabbath, and opened them on Sundays. They wore clothing and earlocks which set them apart in appearance. Their identity was very deeply connected to their religious practices and beliefs.

From here we crossed the square to visit the Remu Synagogue, also known as the New Synagogue because it was built in 1650, which is currently under extensive renovation. Outside of this synagogue, we walked through the Jewish cemetary, where Jews were given land to bury their dead.

Our bus drove us across the Vistula river to the Jewish Ghetto of Krakow, where the Nazis forced the Jews to move. The Krakow Ghetto was a sleeping ghetto, where the Jews slept at night, and worked outside of during the day. The Jews ran this ghetto, and built the walls surrounding it in such a decorative way, showing their resilience and belief that this ghetto would be a new protected area, where they would be able to ride out the war.
From the museum that once was the pharmacy of Tadeusz Pankiewicz, we looked out over the open memorial, with chairs, that represent the furniture that the Jews carried over the bridge into these cramped quarters, where 17,000 people crowded into 320 houses. Shalmi told us the inspirational story of Polish pharmacist Tadeusz Pankiewicz whose diary documents ghetto life.

Here Shalmi explains that Plaszow Camp, located only 5 miles from here, was built by the people from the Krakow Ghetto who believed they would survive the war because they are building a labor camp. They even built a barrack for children there, so they believed that their families would remain intact. However, on March 13, 1943, all Jews from the ghetto were supposed to report to the square at 7:00 a.m. Once there, all children under age 14 were told to line up separately. Their parents were told that they would come to Plaszow the next day. Pankiewicz reports that some saw this as a bad sign and rushed to the pharmacy to purchase one of two drugs: 1. Valerium--a drug that put their babies to sleep, so that a few parents could smuggle their babies into the Plaszow camp. 2. Cyanide, for suicide. At 1:00 p.m., the Nazis ordered those not in the children's line to start marching from the ghetto to Plaszow. They left behind what they were unable to carry. The following day, their children were taken away and shot. Two days later, some parents found out when they were forced to sort the children's clothing, and found the clothing of their own children.

After lunch at McDonald’s, we drove to the museum at Oscar Schindler's factory, a recently opened part of the Jewish Museum of Krakow. We passed a part of the original ghetto wall, which was built by Jews, and shows an ornate style. We tour the exhibit at Schindler’s factory, which focuses extensively on the Nazi occupation of Krakow during the war, and the Polish viewpoint of the ghetto.

We returned to the hotel to say goodbye to our historian, our guide and our friend, Shalmi.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Day 11 Rabka Dzroj and Zakopane

This town of Rabka, once a resort town for convalescents, during the years of 1942-1944, was the site of a courageous act by a group of women who chose to take action,and bury the dead. Located in a town between Krakow and Zakopane, holds an important yet relatively unknown historical place of significance. Here,during World War II the Gestapo took over a convent and used it as a center for training Nazis in interrogation techniques. In order to develop the most effective methods, the Gestapo used local Jews from the shtetl as guinea pigs. They used Jewish citizens from this shtetl as test subjects for teaching methods of interrogation using torture. In the process they would torture them to death and throw their bodies behind the convent.

The nuns of the convent, understanding that this was not right, at their own peril, somehow took the bodies up the hill into the woods and buried them with respect.

Our group follows Shalmi up the hill into the woods to discover the gated cemetery that was constructed when communism fell in 1989 to mark the site of the graves.

We can hear dogs barking in the distance, like they know someone new is in their town.
Today we are witnesses to an untold history. Nothing has been written about this. The nuns don’t go out of their way to tell the story, possibly because the new order who live here don’t know the story.

The nuns somehow managed to get the bodies up the hill, to a hidden space in the forest away from the convent where they had been interrogated and killed by the Gestapo. They made a statement by burying the dead and showing them respect. The nuns built cement platforms to mark the graves.

We have no idea how many bodies are buried here, but in 1989, the end of the communist rule in Poland, a man named Leo Geteterer funded a gate with a Jewish Star of David, enclosing the cemetery with a wrought iron fence.

Here in the cemetery, Shalmi told us a story about Karol Josef Wojtyla, who we now know as Pope John Paul II, who as a young priest in Krakow, did something remarkable. After WWII was over, a Polish couple brought a young boy to him and asked for him to baptize this Jewish boy they had hidden during the war. Fr. Wojtyla asked them if the boy’s parents were alive, and they said no, but the way they answered aroused his suspicions. He then did some research and found out that the boy’s uncles were alive and wanted to raise their nephew. At a time when baptism meant salvation to Catholics, Fr. Wojtyla told the couple no, he would not baptize the boy. Because of this action, he was considered a hero in the Jewish world long before he ever became Pope John Paul II.

As we leave the cemetery, a local man watches us from the woods behind the cemetery, obviously concerned about our visit. We leave knowing that what the nuns did here during the war is truly heroic; however, we wonder at their reluctance to honor those actions today.

We continue our journey to the Tatra mountains and the town of Zakopane, where the local highlanders' crafts and beautifully constructed wooden houses fill the landscape. We are happy tourists who ride the funicular up the mountain, take many pictures, ride the ski lift down,and spend another hour or so shopping and eating excellent Polish kielbasa, soups and pierogies.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Day 10 Auschwitz

After a tearful farewell to Alexandra Zapruder at our Oswiecim hotel, we take a very short bus ride to Auschwitz. Shalmi teaches us about the importance of language, explaining the terms concentration camp and death camp. In the Nazi totalitarian regime, the camp system takes two tracks: those who do not conform to the regime, but are capable of being reformed are sent to concentration camps, but many there died because of the harsh conditions, and those who are not capable of being reformed, like the Jews because of the fallacy that Jews are a race, who are sent to death camps. The Nazis believed that by killing the Jews, they would "heal" their society. It is possible, therefore, for many of these lines to be blurred, because sometimes the same staff worked at both camps, and because it is a complicated issue.

The Nazis chose the city of Oswiecim for three camps: Auschwitz I, a concentration camp, on the grounds of a former Polish military base, Birkenau, a death camp, near the intersection of many rail lines, and Buna, a labor camp where many factories, such as IG Farben used the slave labor.

Here in the museum at Auschwitz, we learn about the death factory, and how, when keeping the Jews of Poland in ghettos was not enough for the Nazis, they needed to expand the camp, and added Auschwitz II, known as Auschwitz-Birkenau.

After lunch, we go to Birkenau. As we pass through the gate, Shalmi, again guiding us through our Holocaust journey, points out The Ramp. Memories of those who survived Auschwitz/Birkenau were divided in two: life before The Ramp, and life after The Ramp. The ramp is where "selection" occurred. Again we learn the importance of language. When the Jews, the Chosen people of God, arrived here, families were torn apart by those who were chosen to die at once, and those who were chosen to die later. Those chosen to die immediately almost always included women with children under the age of 14, along with older men and women.

While telling stories from survivor testimony, Shalmi helps to explain some of the complications of this history by posing questions. "Why was there so little food here?" If the prisoners chosen to die later are needed for physical labor, then why aren't they fed well? Why are prisoners chosen to die later given wooden clogs with no socks? How can they work under these conditions? Many who are not killed immediately died from starvation and injuries to the feet.

Why did the Nazis divide men and women at the Ramp? In the first transports they didn't. The Jews were sent to the gas chambers fully clothed, but the Nazis thought they were wasting a valuable resource, the clothes, if they burned them. Religious Jews would not undress in mixed company, but were more willing to undress if with peple of the same sex. Step by step, the Nazis improved their killing factory here in order to make sure the process flowed smoothly. Everything was carefully calculated so that the trains could keep running on time.

Hannah S. says:
One thing that really stood out to me today was the fact that there was a house right outside the crematorium/gas chamber of Auschwitz where Dr. Rudolf Hess lived. How could someone not only work there every day, but also raise a family amidst the smoke of crematorium chimneys. Even more outstanding than that is the fact that a Polish family lives there today. I simply cannot comprehend why a family would decide to live among such sadness in a place with such a haunted past.

Hannah C. says:
Today was the day that got to me the most. Being at Auschwitz where it all happened, seeing the seclusion and sadness of it all really made it real. It's unfathomable to think that this happen, but looking at the clothes and shoes from the victims painted a clear picture.

Devanni says:
What struck me the most today were the baby clothes. A feeling of disgust came over me. How could the Nazi men be so heartless to kill innocent babies? Such inhumane acts took place during the Holocaust, but this had to be the worst.

Gabrielle says:
Today as we were leaving Auschwitz-Birkenau, Allison and I were walking down the main road alone. As prisoners arrived they were sent down the same road to go to the gas chambers. All I could think was those prisoners only walked one way, but I got to walk back out the way we came.

Amanda says:
Today was the day that everything tied together for me; everything we've learned since we arrived in Berlin up until today was essential for us to try and be able to understand why and how the Nazis could spare some and kill so many others. Nothing will ever allow me to be able to fully understand what happened, but I know this is the closest I'll ever get.

Flori says:
Leaving through the gates of Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp was the most emotional part of today for me. We all walked out with our possessions, our health and our dignity, but those victims did not.

Gaby says:
Seeing the hair in Auschwitz was very emotional for me--to think that's not even from a quarter of the people who were killed. That's crazy. That's something I will never forget.

Kristina says:
As I walked through Auschwitz today, I thought of my grandfather. During the war he was in a POW camp called Stalag. He was not a Jew, but he was part of the Italian military. He was captured by the SS, and placed in a Nazi prison. It felt eerie to be in place that resembled my grandfather's years of torture.

Sam says :

When I saw the hair today in a display case in one of the barracks, I realized that many of these people must have vanished through the chimneys at Birkenau. At the same time, I realized we won't ever know who these people were.

Alyssa S. says:
Seeing a sculpture of a starving woman today reminded me of my grandma. They were wrapped up in scarves like a typical eastern European grandma. Although my grandma was never part of the Holocaust I started to imagine what it would have been like if she had been.

Allison says:
What really stood out to me today was when Mr. Barmore asked again, "Who really are the murderers?" After listening to his stories about civilian testimonies, I came to the conclusion that it was the civilians who were the murderers. Each individual was a part of a chain of people doing their jobs that allowed the murders of the Holocaust.

Megan says:
When we walked through the exhibits, I completely lost it when we passed the shoes. I saw a pair of fancy high heeled shoes and wondered, did the owner think she would need them where she was going ? I can't even comprehend how the people must have felt.

Sarah says:
Today we walked through Auschwitz 70 years after 1.5 million people were marched to their death in the gas chambers. We had the freedom to go in or out of the camp as we pleased. The prisoners were forced to arrive and most left Auschwitz through the chimneys.

Callie says:
Today I saw the prison style picture of Luis Krakaer, a 21 year old Polish Jew. Unlike all the other victims, in his broken face I saw hope and strength illuminating his eyes. This struck me as I realized that this man held hope even in the face of death.

Aidan says:
As we walked through Auschwitz I, I began to feel increasingly panicked and a feeling of impending doom was crushing me from all sides. The pain experienced by the Jews at the hands of the Nazis was around every corner at the death camp Birkenau. Once we had finished touring both camps, I felt relief to be outside, as well as immensely joyous to be alive and surrounded by people who were not capable of this extreme dehumanization.

Vanessa says:
Seeing all the clothing of little children today--their shoes and their prosthetic legs--made me think of a four year old I love like a sister. I made the connection back to her and then to these personal belongings and it made me very emotional.

Ben says:
At Auschwitz-Birkenau today we travel through the camps and learn the difference between a concentration camp and an extermination camp. I was touched after seeing the remnants of people's belongings. The most disturbing was a display of human hair inside the museum at Auschwitz,and this made me realize the level of dehumanization that took place during the Holocaust.

Tyler says:

At Auschwitz-Birkenau today the hair of the Jewish people piled together behind a class case really distirubed me. The amount of items that were piled together were distrubing to me. Despite the camp having a dreary aura, this was true and profound learning experience.

Alyssa says:

Throughout the Holocaust Study Tour experience, the questions, "Who were these people?" and "How did this happen?" continue to surface in every discussion. Auschwitz was a factory where many individuals completed their jobs as part of one long chain. Was the train conductor of a deportation a perpetrator because he did his job? Or would he be a bystander for not doing anything to stop it? Who do we call a murderer when the process was completed in a chain, and each person only completed their job in that chain?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Day 9 Trsice

As we make the journey from Olomouc to Trsice, we are reminded that in the spring of 1942, Otto Wolf, his sister, Lici, and their parents made this journey on foot as they escaped deportation to go into hiding in the forest.

We are greeted once again by our friend, the mayor of Trsice, Mrs. Leona Stejskalova, with the traditional plum drink, bread and salt. Only this year in addition to our group of students and teachers, Eva and her husband Tony and Alexandra Zapruder join us. Inside, while sipping coffee and tea provided by our hosts, we listened to Dr. Brezhina tell the story of the Wolf family. When he finishes, the mayor introduces the officials who are going to sign an official memorandum signifying cooperation between the Jewish Community of Olomouc and the organization for the destroyed Czech villages and towns of World War II. This memorandum is a direct result of our visits and work with the diary of Otto Wolf.

When he finishes, the mayor introduces the officials who are going to sign an official memorandum signifying cooperation between the Jewish Community of Olomouc and the organization for the destroyed Czech villages and towns of World War II. This memorandum is a direct result of our visits and work with the diary of Otto Wolf.

There are three projects that will come about as a result of this memorandum:

1. the Jewish Community of Olomouc will provide resources for a new memorial in Zakrov. 2. the memorial to the rescuers and their families that we are dedicating today 3. A new museum in Trsice about this history where the first artifact included will be the pen used to sign this memorandum.

When we were in Berlin, Shalmi spoke to us about language as a unifying factor for humanity. Throughout the five years that we have been coming to Trsice to learn more about the Wolf family and their rescuers, our guide, Ilona Zahradnikova, has given us the gift of language through her tireless translations of the Czech language into English. Without Ilona, none of this would have been possible. We are very grateful to her for her work with our group on this historical day.

We board the bus with many villagers to ride into the forest for the unveiling and dedication of the memorial. The bus drops us off at the exact location where five years ago, Milos Dobry, led us the first time we trekked through the forest to the Wolf’s hideout with him. The pictures of the memorial and the surrounding area speak for themselves as to the work and preparation that has gone into this site. Petr Papousek, the grandson of Milos and leader of the Jewish Community of Olomouc, leads the ceremony, while Milos' great-grandson and great-granddaughter cling to their father's legs.

More than 100 people, surrounded by newspaper photographers, television reporters, radio journalists and reporters listen as the mayor of Trsice and other Czech officials recognize Colleen Tambuscio for her dedication to this project.

Otto's niece Eva expressed the gratitude felt by the Wolf family for the efforts made by the community both in the past and present.

One particularly moving part of the ceremony was the reading of Otto’s diary by local boy scouts.

These boys had slept in the forest the night before not 100 yards from the hideout. The two boys read a passage from the diary in Otto's original Czech language,

followed by our own Aidan reading an entry from Salvaged Pages in English.

Following the unveiling, many of the people assembled, in accordance with the Jewish tradition, placed stones on and around the memorial.

As we look around the forest, we cannot help but remember the other years we have come to this place through the narrow, treacherous trails with all of the students from New Milford, Jersey City, St. Thomas Aquinas and Bishop O’Dowd high schools who have been with us over the years.

These students are in our hearts because they also have experienced the sounds and smells of this forest, walked through the trees and looked into the hiding place.

On a clothesline strung between two of the trees near the memorial, Dr. Brezina had laminated pages from our 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 Holocaust Study Tour books that include photographs of past visits to these woods, photos of pages from Otto’s original diary and written reflections of individual experiences here. Yes, our students from the past are with us on this historical day.

We leave the woods to go back to the village of Trsice to the restaurant across from the frog statue where we enjoy a delicious lunch hosted by the mayor.

At Zakrov, our final stop in the area, Mrs. Ohera and younger sister who was only five years old when her father was rounded up, along with Otto Wolf, in a raid to capture local partisans who had been operating in the area. They show us the memorial with the names, photographs, and birthdates of the 19 men who were tortured, and were killed April 20, 1945.

As Alexandra Zapruder says in the introduction to Otto’s diary, “. . .the diary paints a picture of a group of people who exhibited a whole range of human conduct, including altruism and generosity, indifference and opportunism, impatience, selfishness, and cruelty, and whose conduct itself shifted and changed over time, defying all attempt at simplification or generalization.” We are struck by the knowledge that Otto, despite being tortured as a result of being denounced as a Jew, did not betray any of the people of Trsice and Zakrov who had helped his family in hiding for three years, nor did he tell about his sister and parents still hiding.

Otto is the unwavering boy, whose diary led American teachers and students here, together with his descendants, to this place in the woods to mark the place where Czech rescuers saved his family.

Gabrielle says:

At the first cemetery in Prague, rocks were laying on the tombstones, which meant nothing to me. Today at the memorial, the rocks meant so much more. Times have changed between the Holocaust and now, but these rocks are something that someone of that time or our time could possess, which is why the rocks felt so appropriate to remember the Wolf family by.

Hannah C. says:

The thing that impacted me the most was that I became a part of history. Not only did I see one of our teachers, Mrs. Tambuscio, unveiling the memorial, I also got to witness something huge. I got to watch Jewish people being represented in a place where once they had not even been allowed to breathe.

Alyssa S. says:

Today we experienced history and some of us heard something for the very first time---we heard Petr read a section of the Torah. I felt more at home, and I felt I could pray for the people who died or experienced the Holocaust. It was also ironic, because during the Holocaust, people were persecuted for being Jewish, yet now someone was speaking in Hebrew at a memorial of the Holocaust.

Gaby says:

I felt uncomfortable when we were at the memorial in Zakrov and we saw how old the boys were when they were killed. I can’t even imagine something like that happening to me because they were my age. I am appreciative of how the people in this town have great tolerance and created a memorial to the Wolfs who don’t even share their religion. I don’t think I can completely grasp what went on today, but I’m sure that in ten years I will look back and be grateful.

Alyssa L. says:

Across from where the Ohera family hid the Wolf family, was a huge field that to me symbolized freedom. I couldn't imagine what it must have been like for the Wolf family to see that open field every day and at the same time know that they weren't free. It was even harder to stand at this place with the Ohera sisters and understand that their father died after his efforts to help preserve the Wolf family's freedom--they were almost able to run across that field and run free.

Devanni says:

I felt a personal connection with the Ohera sisters because I also lost a parent. They taught me that it's okay to let your guard down and open up. That moment with the Ohera sisters impacted me the most of any throughout this entire trip.