Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Time to Get Packin'

Hi! My name is Meghan Cramsie and I am a junior at Iona College. At the end of week I will be in Poland!!!

My Catholic identity is very important to me and I have participated in many opportunities offered by the Office of Mission and Ministry. I am a student campus minister in the Christian community on campus and I organize all of Iona Masses. In the past two years, I have been to Detroit and Washington D.C. on mission trips. I got the chance to travel, explore my faith, and serve others less fortunate than I am. However, this year I did not feel called to any of the mission trips offered, but I had heard about the Poland study abroad trip from some friends who had gone previously.

Being a business management major, I do not get to take many classes that teach me or let me explore my faith. I was excited to hear that the class was with the  religious studies department but I was even more excited to be going to a place with such a profound and intense history. I also have never been out of the country...

So, I took a leap of faith! 
This will be my first time leaving the country. I have my fresh passport and a pocket full of zlotys!

On Monday, March 9th, my classmates and I got the chance to attend the Defiant Requiem at Avery Fischer Hall. It was a wonderful experience!

I was nervous that after a full day of classes and work, I would get to my to seat and fall asleep – but I was completely wrong! Our class sat together in box 9 where we could see everything!! 

Though I could not understand the words the choir was singing because they were in Latin, I tried my best to follow along with the translations that my professor had given us before the show. Each section was separated by survivor’s testimonies whether they were videos of them or read aloud by someone else. 

We had the pleasure of meeting the conductor, Maestro Sidlin, who showed us the documentary that described the work behind the Defiant Requiem. We learned about the history of Terezin and the choir led by Rafael Schachter. 

The end of the concert gave me the chills. 

The choir had finished singing their last section of "Libera me". They sang "deliver me, O Lord, from eternal death on that awful day. Deliver me" and the train whistle blew... 

In a straight line, all the men and women from the orchestra and choir walked down the long aisle while humming a dark and depressing tone. One by one, they walked in their matching black outfits out of the concert hall; who knew where they were going. 

The Defiant Requiem, our textbook called "The Holocaust Kingdom", and many of the documentaries we have watched in class have been helping to make the Shoah, more well known as the Holocaust, very real to me. While excited to travel to Poland, the things I will experience on my trip and the emotions I will feel will not be easy. But I feel well prepared by my professor and with my classmates by my side. 

"Lacrymosa dies illa, qua resurget ex favilla."


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