Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Everlasting Effects...

It has been a month and two weeks since I have returned from Poland. I have had much time to reflect and truly understand what I witnessed and subsequently, how it has affected my life. As a senior, I have reflected a lot about my four years here at Iona College. I look back at how I would stress out about school work, extracurricular activities and how life can be so hard and get in the way. However, these issues have evolved into great opportunities here at Iona which have helped me understand that everything works out and to always attempt to look for the good. Ultimately these experiences have shown me that God always has a plan. As I have had other opportunities to have this constant reminder and lesson, Poland has helped me formulate the mindset that I have a blessed life. For me, personally, it is still hard to fathom how many people suffered during the time of the Shoah. I have read numerous books and articles and had the opportunity to be present at Auschwitz I and Auschwitz-Birkenau, yet, the suffering that occurred there is something I could not even begin to fathom.  
During our tour we were told a typical day at Auschhwitz-Birkenau:
Wake up at 4am.
Breakfast (received water and herbs).
Camp numbers were checked and roll call was completed.
Prisoners were sent to work four around 11 hours a day. Prisoners were given 20 minutes for a meal as a short break.
The prisoners were given 3 meals a day but not enough to survive. 
Sent back and numbers were checked again.
Try to imagine a daily life like that, I know I couldn’t. I lived a blessed life. I go daily with a pretty packed schedule but I have the opportunity to laugh, eat 3 healthy meals a day, and live a free life. I live a blessed life. Of course, I am not perfect but I always look at the good in my life.

After this experience, my outlook changed as I have become ever-grateful I am to have food, water and the necessities each day to live. Not only did my outlook on life change but how I see others and how I will advocate for those who can’t is now forever changed. I never was one to voice an opinion or belief but now I understand how important it is to not be a bystander and to be an upstander. It was not something that I thought much about or realize how truly important this prior to this trip. As a future speech language pathologist, I will advocate for my clients and groups who don’t have a voice. I will shut down negative connotations about other groups when brought up and I will always stand up for what I believe in.

Experiences like this are what mold and affect your life greatly. I am so grateful for this experience and I am certain that this experience will remain with me as I get older. I was talking to one of the class’s professors how an experience may not affect your way of thinking or mindset right away, but, rather, the experience could gradually come into your life. As I have already gained so much insight and aspirations on who I want to be, I know this experience and what I have learned will help me in the future in completing my goals and reaching the pinnacles of success.


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