Sunday, March 10, 2013

Kate Ann Gonta: Oswiecim

After months of planning and preparation myself and 7 other students along with 2 professors arrived in Poland. It has still not hit me yet that I am actually here and that the  amount of information that I will learn here will be tremendous. I was very nervous, but while we were driving an hour through the countryside to where we would be staying, my nerves started to calm down.

Upon arriving to the Center, we were greeted by Sister Mary, a wonderful sister, who welcomed us with open arms. Sister Mary is a Mercy Sister from Dublin, Ireland. She had been here for about five years, arriving here through invitation. She is very knowledgeable and cultured.

After unpacking, we headed to the Jewish Museum Synagogue Education Center in Oswiecim. Our tour guide was Alexander and he was from the Ukraine. At this museum, we had an opportunity to connect with the pre-war Jewish life of the town through pictures and artifacts.  The pictures portrayed individuals, as well as families in their everyday lives. Documents and items from local Jewish organizations and businesses were also in the museum. While giving the tour, Alexander stated that there are no more Jewish people living in Oswiecim now. This stuck out to me because Oswiecim once had such a thriving Jewish community and now it doesn't.  This thought made me sad because it was once home to thousands of Jews and now because of what happened here many years ago, Jews have a very different outlook on this town. Wonderful memories could have been made here, but now it will forever be known as the town where thousands of Jews lost their life for no good reason.

At night we had the opportunity to sit down with Sister Mary and pick her brain. She mentioned how there will be four dimensions to how our week and trip might go. The first dimension is to be silent and listen. Listen to the earth. The second dimension is to listen to the voice of our own hearts. Connect the memory of the past with us today. The third dimension will be to listen to the voice of others. To know the facts and make connections. The last dimension will be to listen to the voice of god.  Only then can we encounter questions and understand the Jewish/ Christin relations.  I am looking forward to experiencing each one of these dimensions and getting the benefits out of each one of them.


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