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Classrooms Without Borders

Comparing Poland yesterday and today based on daily themes such as a thousand years of Jewish life in Poland; dilemmas surrounding life and death and bearing witness; and personal reflection and soul searching are just a few of the ways teachers will focus on the history of the Holocaust. Accompanied by a Holocaust survivor, teachers will view Poland, its people, its government and socioeconomics in unique ways that will increase their understanding of the value of diversity and the results of prejudice. This experience is powerful and life changing. It offers a distinctive view of the history of Poland, its current position in global relationships and how genocide remains a reality today in third world countries.

In advance of travel, teachers will engage in 5 pre-departure workshops that will focus on relevant topics designed to give them baseline knowledge and information to create context for the seminar.

As a follow-up to the seminar, teachers will meet for 2 workshops to share the instructional materials that they designed for their students and to further reflect on their experience. Teachers are eligible to receive 3 Act 48 Credits or 90 Act 48 hours of continuing professional education through Allegheny Intermediate Unit #3 for a minimal fee.

Teachers will also receive a Resource Book especially compiled for the seminar that includes timelines, maps, historical documents and statistics as well as thematic articles relevant to each day's activities. It also includes site specific articles that offer additional information that teachers can draw from as they develop unit and lesson plans for their students. Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland immerses teachers in Poland and its culture and thus Poland becomes an interactive textbook supported by the knowledge and skills of a highly qualified scholar and personal travel guide.

Although the seminar answers many questions that students of history pose, numerous other questions are raised by virtue of the mini-lectures and follow-up discussions.

Some of the questions raised by this seminar are:

  1. Why were the Germans the main perpetrators and why were the Jews the main victims?
  2. What is the roll of traditional anti-Semitism, prejudice and racism in enabling the Nazis to implement the Final Solution?
  3. What kind of leadership evolved among the perpetrators and the victims and what were some of the dilemmas they faced?
  4. How did the relationship between Jews and Poles before, during and after the War impact their mutual perceptions and roles in the Holocaust?
  5. How diversified was Jewish culture in Europe on the eve of World War II? How did this manifest itself religiously and politically in Poland?
  6. What lessons does the Holocaust teach us for the future and how can we implement them?

The major purposes of this seminar are to:

  1. Examine and discuss how and why the most civilized nation in Europe attempted to eliminate the Jewish people
  2. Understand the dynamics of how a totalitarian regime operates
  3. Define the moral and ethical dilemmas facing both the victims and the bystanders in the Holocaust and identify the lessons learned
  4. Study the pre-World War II interrelationships between diverse cultures in Europe, utilizing the Jewish model as a key empirical case.
  5. Compare and contrast the dilemmas of diversity in modern Europe with what is happening in the United States today
  6. Examine the characteristics of Polish and Jewish culture, their cross-fertilization and interaction from the beginning of the modern era until today
  7. Enable educators to create classroom programs, activities, unit and lesson plans that will reflect the knowledge and experience they have acquired so that their students will be more informed about the causes and outcomes of the Holocaust

For more information email melissa@classroomswithoutborders.org

Itinerary

Monday June 30th – arrival and orientation - Warsaw
  • Sites: Jewish Cemetery at Otopowa st. (Gesia), Nozyk synagogue, Old Town of Warsaw
  • Overnight Warsaw
Tuesday July 1st – Warsaw
  • Sites: Janusz Korchak orphanage, parts of the Ghetto, Jewish Historical Institute, Jewish Museum
  • Overnight Warsaw
Wednesday July 2nd – Warsaw + Treblinka
  • Sites: Umschlagplatz, Mila 18, Rappoport Memorial, Treblinka
  • Overnight Warsaw
Thursday July 3rd – Lublin, Maidanek
  • Sites: Maidanek, Lublin town center + debriefing
  • Overnight Lublin (same hotel out of town as two years ago)
Friday July 4th -  Auschwitz
  • Sites: Auschwitz and time allowing – Salt Mines, dinner at JCC in Crakow
  • Overnight Cracow
Saturday July 5th – Cracow
  • Sites:  Old Cracow – Wawel Castle + St. Mary's Church, Free time + debrief Auschwitz,  Festival at night.
  • Overnight Cracow
Sunday July 6th – Cracow
  • Sites: Kazimierz (Jewish Quarter), Ghetto area, Schindler's factory, Plashow concentration camp and Final dinner
  • Overnight Cracow
Monday 5 July 7th – Flight home

Videos

2017 Poland Personally Short Clip

2017

2017 Poland Personally Seminar Video

Educators 2017

2016 Poland Seminar Video Directed by Emmai Alaquiva

2016

2014 Poland Personally Video Clip

2014

Poland Personally: 2014 Full Length Movie

2014

Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

Educators 2012

Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

Students 2012

Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

2011

What our participants have to say...

Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland was extremely powerful and in many ways transformational. It turned out to be one of the most moving trips of my life. I knew that visiting the sites in Poland with a Holocaust survivor, Howard Chandler, would be very difficult emotionally, but its impact was even stronger than I had foreseen. Visiting the camps and the ghettos and hearing Howard’s explanations brought the experience to life in a way that nothing else could. Coupled with our group discussions, the experience helped me move from the abstract to the concrete and feel and visualize what the Jewish community of Europe went through in an unforgettable way. This on-site visit allowed me to identify with those historical events in a way that nothing else could. I was traveling with my son, Ben as well.  Being able to share this with him was very special and the shared experience, difficult as it was, fortified the bond between us.

Dr. Mark Frisch / Duquesne University
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

The most intense ideas or experiences from Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland are impossible to choose because traveling with a Holocaust survivor and doing the things planned was one of the most interesting experiences of my life. I’d say that, if I had to choose, the most moving experiences would be between hearing Howard Chancellor’s stories in the barracks of Birkenau, bonding with him and the others, learning all I could from Avi and the Reform Shabbat service at the Galicia Museum with a Reform congregation that was the only one in Krakow only two years old. After this experience,  I can’t understand how Holocaust education can happen without going to the sites. I look back and my whole Holocaust education in school seemed black and white, two dimensional. There is something to be said about seeing that wild flowers grow in concentration camps after all that had happened. It is incredibly important to view the amount of human hair and collection of prosthetic legs and crutches that are exhibited behind glass at Auschwitz and to experience the human connection felt from the group hugs and sharing these moments together with everyone.

Jesse Blank / Student / Winchester Thurston Student
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

In both history and literature, the places that we read about are only as real as our imaginations. Yet, when we visit the actual environments of places, including places that can testify horrors like those of the Holocaust, we realize, as both students and educators, that the definition of "real" has a more visceral, more biting connection to human empathy than any book or written work could possibly hope to attain.

Christopher Irving / Teacher / Beacon College
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

The aspect of the trip that sticks with me most is Howard Chandler dancing in the streets at the Jewish music festival ... this made me reflect more deeply on how fragile and seemingly unpredictable life can be. After all, the fact that a boy who was destined to die in a country that was invaded and seemingly lost to Germany could now be a spry older man celebrating life was extremely moving. It gave me hope that the human spirit can survive any hardship.

Ron Sivillo / Teacher / Upper St. Clair
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland far exceeded my expectations!  Classrooms Without Borders definitely put together a extremely organized trip with a very thorough itinerary and great resources. We not only studied history, we witnessed history in the making on a number of occasions. The diversity of the group was amazing. The information that Avi, our scholar and guide, taught us blew me away. Having Holocaust Survivor, Howard Chandler, and his family with us meant a lot to me.

There are so many stories to take back to my students and so much to discuss about what Poland is like today. We will discuss how groups in society interact and what we need to do to understand each other and live together, why conflicts result in societies and when conflict resolution does not work, the ethical issues-why we need to speak up, what makes a “righteous person”? How should we study the Holocaust?

LuAnn Warner-Prokos / Teacher / St. Andrew’s School, Boca Raton, FL
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

Classroom learning has a way of sterilizing topics, often diluting them to dates, numbers, or anecdotal remembrances. Travel allows the learner a more authentic vision of past events. Walking among the Memorials spoke to us in a way it is difficult to explain. The raw emotions, the sharp edges, the horrors of the bones, and the beauty of the spirit resonated at every juncture. This learning was not orchestrated, not a prepared lecture, or even a lesson designed to maximize student engagement; it was a moment in time when we saw the ghosts of the past, heard them whisper to us, felt their breath on our necks, and the wet sting of their tears.

Ellen Resnek / Teacher / Downingtown East High School
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

Visiting Majdanek made something "click" in my head. Until I was actually there, where so many people had their lives stolen from them, it didn't really click that the Holocaust was not just an assault on Jewish people, but an assault on humanity.

Ross Tedder / Student / Winchester Thurston School
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

Without traveling to Poland, I could have never sensed the vastness of the terror that Jewish and Polish peoples must have felt under the Third Reich. I won't claim that I now understand that terror, but I at least know that the terror is unknowable to me. Our itinerary appropriately outlined the chronology of incrementalism; first Jewish people lose their rights, they're put into a ghetto, they're removed from plazas in their towns, they're murdered in camps. Seeing these sites with scholars and a survivor made the Shoah a human story for me, rather than an academic one. This could have never been communicated to me via photographs or printed texts, and I'm so grateful that I got to experience it with a survivor; in the coming years, such an experience will be impossible.

Kate Lukaszewicz / Teacher / Sewickley Academy
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

The Classrooms Without Borders program is a must­-participate for educators. It is a life­ changing experience that will forever shape how one views issues of genocide, dehumanization, tolerance, diversity and basic civil rights. Any teacher that touches on these issues should consider participating in this experience.

Tom Ralston / Superintendent / Avonworth School District
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

Being in a place of such overwhelming sadness was the hardest part of my participation in Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland. For as challenging as it was to walk in the footsteps of those who had been slaughtered – to see what had become of once proud Polish Jewish communities and imagine what it was for innocents to be forced to step out of a cattle car and be marched straight into a gas chamber – the most difficult thing was to be hopeful in the face of such heartache.

Traveling under the auspices of Dr. Tsipy Gur's Classrooms Without Borders, ours was an intergenerational, interfaith group of forty educators and students, who only one week ago returned from Poland, sight of the worst example of human depravity in historical memory. Just over seventy years ago, the German Army marched across this ancient, beautiful land, systematically tearing asunder the fabric of a nation, killing some 6,000,000 Poles, 3,000,000 of whom were Jews.

There is still a great deal more to be unearthed and revealed, to be sure, but the prevailing discovery the participants of Classrooms Without Borders made is that if one is unwilling to give in to despair, and will expend the effort, there are indeed divine sparks to be found where once an all-but-consuming darkness reigned.

"Where can God be found? Jewish sources ask. Wherever one lets God in, comes the timeless reply. Even in Warsaw, Lublin and Krakow. Even in the presence of the ghettos, gas chambers and crematoria. Even in the face of the memory of the terror that was Treblinka, Majdanek and Auschwitz-Birkenau. Even here. This was the healing, holy takeaway from an otherwise heart-rending journey. Po-lan-ya. Even here, our best hope for the next generation lives.

Read the complete article

Rabbi Aaron Bisno / Senior Rabbi of Rodef Shalom Congregation in Squirrel Hill
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

Dear Tsipy,

After viewing the piece about your inspiring work on WQED the other evening, I wanted to let you know how much you have changed my life. I met you at the Holocaust Center in 2004, and you helped me to get funding for my trip to Poland in 2005 with you. Since then, I've attended both the Belfer and Next Step Conferences at the USHMM in addition to any other workshop or conference available in the area. In addition to teaching about the Holocaust in my classroom, I've presented to various community groups. Last week I conducted a workshop at the National Catholic Education Convention held here in Pittsburgh. Many people approached me from all over the country who are also interested in spreading the stories and lessons of the Holocaust.
Holocaust Education has become my passion. I've continued to grow a small library of books and videos to share with kids and adults alike. I spend hours watching video and researching online to enhance lessons and find new material.

Thank you so much for changing my life. Please continue to inspire others as you did me.

Sally Gooch / Teacher
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

I stood on the train tracks at Birkenau that transported millions of innocent people to their deaths. I touched the barbwire fence and saw how it stretched on and on across the fields around the bunkers. I stood in one of the bunker houses and listened to Howard, a man who survived that horrible place, share his stories. I have seen with my own eyes the millions of shoes usurped by the Nazis at Auschwitz. I walked through the gas chambers at Majdanek and saw the blue stains on the wall. I stood under the showers where thousands of people took their last breath. I walked through the crematoriums. I stood in front of the ashes and bones. Being on site allowed me to experience history in a deeper more impactful way that I could not have learned in a classroom setting....The CWB travel seminar to Poland has strengthened my resolve to teach students to learn from our past, to think critically and empathetically, to maintain open­ minds that help them learn and understand others' perspectives and to value the diversity that our humanity brings.

Kathy Galecki / Teacher / Avonworth Middle School
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

"Visiting Poland changed my view of the Holocaust from an event studied in history to a personal experience that affected millions of people's lives...people, not faceless numbers in a history book."

Melissa DeSimone / Teacher / Avonworth Middle School
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

My experience will inspire me to be a better teacher because I can describe first hand the lump in my throat and chest when I walked into the crematoria. I had a physical reaction to being there. I couldn't catch my breath to know so many had perished and been in that same room.

Whitney Conjeski / Teacher / PA Cyber
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

This experience changed my perception of the Holocaust from a faded, black and white photograph of something that happened a long time ago, to a very concrete (and very scary) reality that is highly relevant to our future.

Roni Rosenfeld / Professor / Carnegie Mellon University
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

Being in the classroom has limitations, even the beloved internet can not bring the facts to life like traveling does. The smells, the sounds, feeling the wind and sun in such places never leaves. No classroom can make that happen. My best hope is to create the spark, the inquiry for my students to seek more on their own and to make the difference in their generations....CWB provides the inspiration to conintue the efforts, that what teachers do matters, and each individual is worth the extra effort.

Pamala Learn / Teacher / Dutch Ridge Elementary
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

The Classrooms Without Borders trip confirmed my experience regarding the power of on site learning. During the experiential learning trip, Stephen Hart's quote kept coming to my mind: "Formal education is a walk through the zoo, informal education is a walk through the savannah." The Poland Personally seminar provided a powerful and memorable experiential learning walk through a rich and complex ecosystem that deserves to be "lived" by as many students and educators as possible.

Roberta Brandau / Teacher / Holy Family Academy
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

In a classroom, the victims of the Holocaust are statistics. In Poland, where they lived and died, they are humans. Their faces line the walls, their ashes pile under a brilliant blue sky, their empty shoes fill rooms. I continue to struggle with how to remember these people, as individuals and not meaningless numbers, and the best way I can come up with is to be more compassionate and empathetic towards everyone I encounter.

Kate Chaillet / Student / Winchester Thurston School
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

From dawn until dusk, day after day, I was taken on a journey that was educational, spiritual, and allowed me to see the span of human capabilities from horrific to heroic.

Steve Hopkins / Teacher / Old Trail School
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

I will be a stronger teacher not only because of the history and facts I learned, but because I experienced it with a survivor. I was standing feet away from Howard when we learned of Eli Wiesel's death, and I think that moment really made the whole experience sink in more. We truly are the last generations to hear these stories first hand. I wholeheartedly believe that teachers and students should go on CWB seminars because reading a book or seeing a movie is not the same as experiencing and hearing first-hand.

Chelsea Platt / Teacher / Flant Hill School
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

The special value of the Poland Personally seminar is its immediacy for an educator. Standing in the market square of Starachoweice and listening to Howard's rich description of what happened on that day the Nazis uprooted the lives of his family and community, I understood emotionally and intellectually the loss of human freedom and life. I felt the urgency of communicating this understanding to students...Poland Personally will challenge educators to go beyond the facts about the Holocaust, to ask questions, and to encourage their students to understand and preserve the lessons of the Holocaust.

Judi Olsavsky / Teacher / The Linsly School
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

What I saw, heard, felt and learned in Poland was overwhelming to say the least. I have listened to the stories of Holocaust survivors in the past, but traveling with Howard Chandler, (an Auschwitz survivor) was an unforgettable experience... I experienced moments on this trip that I will never forget and I am eager to share these experiences with my students in the upcoming years. Through the vast resources made available to me by CWB, the professional relationships that I have developed with other educators, my photographs and personal experiences, my students will undoubtedly gain a deeper understanding of the Holocaust.

Jeffrey Eason / Teacher
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

It is essential that Holocaust study programs for educators featuring site visits and personal interactions continue to be held so as to better instruct young minds on the topic. The impressions made by such a trip will enable teachers to better explain the Holocaust to their students, so that the lessons of the Holocaust serve as a reminder to be vigilant against attacks on human rights and dignity.

Dr. Gary Peiffer / Superintendent / Carlynton School District
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

Through Holocaust education, I learned the value of tolerance and diversity... I learned that hope can be found in the darkest places, ­­hope can be found even when all humanity seems to be lost. I also learned
the importance of forgiveness and the power of education.

Samantha Smith / Student
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

The contrast between the extermination camps and present-day Polish cities was quite thought-provoking...The opportunity to travel to Poland and visit sites that I have been studying for the greater part of my adult life was simply priceless. Walking the grounds of the Warsaw Ghetto, the Plaszow Labor Camp, and the death camps of Treblinka, Majdanek and Auschwitz-Birkenau brought home the brutality, despair and overwhelming sadness that permeated central and eastern Europe during the first half of the twentieth century. The juxtaposition of the architectural and cultural jewel of Krakow with Birkenau, the most murderous of the extermination camps, also forced me to grapple with how easily civilization can slide into barbarism.

Jeff Rutherford / Professor / Wheeling Jesuit University
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

Having Howard there, telling his story, allowed for us to more easily relate to the information. Howard made it real. Howard provided a look at the Holocaust that you can't get from books, pictures, video and primary sources. The personal connection is something that cannot be learned in the classroom.

Jake Zirkle / Student / Washington Jefferson University
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

When I went on this trip, I had been teaching about the Holocaust for 20 years. I had already visited Dachau and Mauthausen, so I assumed that this would be a seminar that would give me a few more facts to add to my lesson and some photos to put into my presentations. I had no idea how wrong I was – so many parts of the trip had a profound impact on me. 

Lisa Welch / Teacher / Linsly School
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

I never considered how much MORE of an experience this would be – educationally, spiritually, personally...I did not realize that I would form incredible friendships and bonds with people from different cities, backgrounds, cultures, faiths, etc. Being able to participate in the memorials was something of a healing process, but it was also wonderful to be included in certain Jewish traditions. Everything came full circle. 

Betsy Francis / Teacher / Wheeling Charleston Central Catholic High School
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

I know that some teachers were worried about being too emotional when teaching the subject now; however, I think this is a good thing. It is good for the students to see their teachers upset about what happened because it shows them that what happened can't be ignored. This human experience is what needs to be taken into classrooms; it needs to affect the younger generations because they are the future.

Betsy Francis / Teacher / Wheeling Charleston Central Catholic High School
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

One thought that really stuck with me was that the Holocaust didn't just happen to the Jews. It happened to the whole world. I think many people ignore the Holocaust because they feel disconnected to what happened. Because they aren't Jewish, the Holocaust doesn't affect them. But in reality more than just the Jews were targeted. While the Jews make up the majority of the people killed, so many others were hurt too. Catholics, gypsies, the mentally and physically disabled, and even certain poles were killed in death camps. So if i could bring back one idea, it would be that everyone was affected but the Holocaust, not just one specific group of people.

Dylan Groff / Student / Shady Side Academy
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

The living witnesses are extremely important to these trips and the learning experiences. I believe without the witnesses, something in the program would be lost. I'm so blessed to have met Howard Chandler!

Carrie McKenzie / Teacher
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

For me, learning about the Holocaust and seeing the Holocaust sites are two different concepts. In some regard, learning and reading allows you to have a sense of self-fulfillment that you understand what you read, but when you visually encounter these atrocities, this all changes...I expected to only learn, but we did so much more. We commemorated, we remembered, and we celebrated the lives of those who perished in the Holocaust. We prayed, we broke bread with total strangers, and by the end, it was a truly close-knit community.

Blake Humphrey / Student / Wheeling Park High School
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

Collaboration with teachers and students was very valuable. I was able to discuss and bring to life ideas that I had about teaching the Holocaust and get immediate feedback. When I was walking through a particular exhibit or standing alone taking in the whole scene, I knew another teacher or student was nearby.

Anne Holly Neely / Teacher / Taylor Allerdice High School
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

Visiting this place and thereby telling a story from my past and connecting it to the history of the world is very intriguing and engaging. We want our students to be engaged in our lessons and this is a guaranteed way to do that.

Anne Holly Neely / Teacher / Taylor Allerdice High School
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

In Auschwitz, I entered the gas chamber with a group of Jewish students (many wore Israeli flags as capes) and they began to sing Hatikva. I began to cry, but sang triumphantly with them as we celebrated the continuation of the Jewish people.

Amy Katz / Teacher / Shady Side Academy
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

There is an ineffable quality to being in a space that strikes nerves; this program takes those difficult experiences and funnels them toward enthusiastic and effective teaching. 

Adam Oberlin / Teacher / Linsly School
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

Nothing prepares you for this experience. Humans are not born with the ability to 'go there' in their minds, or to comprehend the scale of this atrocity. We learn how to deal with this tragedy by experiencing it together and talking about it, and encouraging others to experience it for themselves.

Robinson Howard / Teacher / Westmorland Old Main
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

The Holocaust is a tragedy, a nightmare too big and too horrible to imagine happening, and 70 years later, many people simply don't want to bring it into their minds, let alone their hearts.

Sherri Hallgren / Teacher / Shady Side Academy
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

Studying the Holocaust isn't just about learning about the terrors brought to the Jews by the Germans. Learning and seeing the passion and pride behind the beliefs in Judaism inspired me to be closer to my own religion. The Jewish members of this trip enlightened me to a new sense of pride in who you are.

Amaris Gonzalez / Teacher / Sewickley Academy
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

I was able to learn about the 'individual' during this trip. Usually in classrooms only the number of victims is focused upon. The numbers that are used to describe the victims are so large that the human mind cannot comprehend what is actually being talked about. Breaking those numbers down to individuals and families show how truly awful this entire regime was.

Isaac Estep / Student / Wheeling, WV
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

The seminar went above and beyond my expectations, leaving me not only with a wealth of knowledge but it opened up a plethora of questions about humanity, Judaism and Jewish culture, racism and my identity as an African American woman.

Venneasha Davis / Teacher / Woodland Hills Academy
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

Honestly, this trip has taught me to be a better human being. Just by standing in a deserted death camp, I could picture in my mind the horrific events that took place in the same exact spot. I never want that to happen again. If I can use my experience in my everyday life to be a better person, then I know I learned something from this trip. I will be telling anyone who asks about my trip, if they have the chance, to go see it for themselves. In the meantime, I will try to recreate what I saw through my words to the best of my ability.

Brooke Bleifus-Hennen / Student / Wheeling, WV
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

The Classrooms Without Borders trip showed me the immense power of human choice, either for great good or great evil. A trip like this helps the participant to commit him or herself to making choices conscientiously, always wanting to spread goodness wherever possible. I would recommend to anyone --particularly educators-- to travel with Classrooms Without Borders for the experience of a life time.

Lisa Coyne / Teacher
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

This trip reinforces the fragility of life and how quickly it can all be taken away. The idea of 1+1+1+1 eventually equaling 6 million Jews and 11 million people all dying because most people weren't brave enough to stand up and speak up for fear of what would happen to them.

Jacob Galik / Teacher / Wheeling, WV
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

I think the trip honestly changed me as a person. I think it taught me a lot about tolerance and also cultural relativism (with the current polish population) and a lot about the role of a bystander... I feel I learned those lessons enough to implement them in my practices and values as well as to teach others about them, talk about what I see and what I know. 

Riley Bresnahan / Student / Wheeling, WV
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

There is no possible way that one can understand the human tragedy that was the Holocaust without traveling to Poland and visiting the several camps. The intense activity and expert guidance together with reflection opportunities melded history and morality. I have gained such perspective that will allow me to become a deeper thinker and better teacher. Poland Personally is a unique opportunity to grow as a human being and to understand the struggle and triumph of the human spirit. 

Perry Rogers / Teacher / Columbus School for Girls
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

I never thought of Poland as a country with green trees or pretty, blue waters, I always saw it as sort of a death symbol in black and white photographs. I have never been more shocked in my life. Now I know the beauties of Poland. It was truly amazing. One moment, we would be in the heart of the city and people would be laughing. Then the tone would change when just down the road we entered a death camp. I never thought it was possible for a human to go through almost every emotion possible, but it can happen. I feel like over this trip I bonded with such a great group of individuals and I will cherish this friendships for my lifetime.

Jordan Riggs / Student / Wheeling, WV
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

Books, classes, and teachers are all limited with their resources and information, but seeing the chambers, buildings, or barbed wire provides you with a new sense of understanding that cannot ever be achieved just through reading a chapter or two in your history book.

Amaris Gonzalez / Student / Pittsburgh
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

One thing I learned from this trip is that, in order to learn about the holocaust, you have to focus on the individuals. Trying to think about 6 million of anything is too hard. It's even hard to picture one hundred things. Learning about the Holocaust in terms of the 6 million doesn't allow you to relate personally to what took place and thus, it becomes just another history lesson. By focusing on an individual, you can really connect to what happened. This way, the Holocaust becomes ingrained in you. It becomes a part of who you are.

Dylan Groff / Student / Shady Side Academy
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

In so many ways, the Holocaust is an event—a tragedy, a nightmare—that suffers from its own scope. It's too big and too horrible to imagine happening, and 70 years later, many people simply don't want to bring it into their minds, let alone their hearts. But I think the entire world is still coming to terms with what people did to other people there in Poland and elsewhere, and it's necessary that we encounter and learn from all of it. As William Faulkner famously said, "The past is never dead. It isn't even past." Traveling with teachers and students through Classrooms Without Borders allowed me to experience and learn history, culture, politics, even the symbolic ways we've found to memorialize the events of the Holocaust, in a way that no amount of reading or study could have. We traveled through time as well as space to be in the Warsaw ghetto, Auschwitz, the old city of Krakow, and the past came alive. It was mind-expanding and life-altering, an experience I would wish everyone to have.

Sherri Halgreen / Teacher / Shady Side Academy
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

By having your feet in the footsteps of history is a game changer. To see what history really was, feel the same wind on your face as the historical figures felt, smell the smells, witness the locations as they really were...that is paradigm shifting. Someone once said that if you don't study history, you are bound to repeat it. You can not experience history and have it really be understood by reading about it in a static sterile environment. To understand history...you must live history.

Vincent Schmidt / Teacher / Wheeling, WV
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

The Poland Personally Study Seminar is a life-changing experience. Educationally, the trip was an amazing learning experience--not just through the history which was taught by incredible individuals but through the personal experience of each person on this trip. We daily find things to complain about, but I think I will always think before I complain about anything. My life is an easy life compared to the experiences of the Jewish people and others involved in the Holocaust. As a school counselor, I will try to emulate the strength and courage of those persecuted throughout the Holocaust and the hope of those who survived it.

Marilyn Wehrheim / Teacher / Wheeling, WV
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland