|Driving into the Center for Dialogue and Prayer in Oswiecim.|
Before I say anything though, I want to point out that the picture of the sign above was taken a few seconds before we pulled up to the center. We are that close. I knew that we were going to be... but it is surreal when the van pulls up and well... you finally really realize what you are getting yourself into and how much of an impact your experience could have on other people. For instance, every thing I am going to see this week, you're going to see through this blog, my mom is going to see through my words, my friends are going to see through the world of social networking, and my classmates are going to share in the seeing firsthand. My experiences are not just my own. Maybe I knew this all along, but seeing that sign so close to where I am living this week really sealed the deal that this as more than just a trip and more than just school credit.
We also met with Sr. Mary today, one of the educators at the center. She further prepared us for what to expect. One of the most significant things she said is that we have to be aware of the silence. When we visit Auschwitz later in our trip, we have to acknowledge the sounds of absence, inherently the sounds of silence even if the world around us is noisy. We have to reflect.
If you're anything like me, you look for answers to requests like this in music. When she spoke all I could hear was "The Sound of Silence" by Simon and Garfunkel in my head.
Some of the lyrics:
"People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence"
Can't these verses, taken out of context of what the writers really wanted, almost perfectly describe common reactions to the Holocaust? Silence, repression, and fright. I think they do, but it also praises the alternative, speaking... disturbing that silence. That is what this whole course is about, and really what all teaching should ever attempt to achieve: opinions and conversation.
Silence must be acknowledged, but it also must be spoken about.