The March of Remembrance and Hope, in which students from Hobart and William Smith Colleges and Nazareth College participated this spring, was recently featured in the Brighton-Pittsford Post Newspaper. HWS participated in this trip previously, in 2003 and 2006. Accompanied by Michael Dobkowski, professor of religious studies and organizer of the program for HWS, students visited monuments and memorials that commemorate the once thriving Jewish cultural centers in Berlin, Warsaw, Krakow and Lublin that were destroyed during World War II. They then walked through the death camps of Treblinka, Majdanek and Auschwitz-Birkenau where life ended for millions. The goal of the trip is to enable students to confront firsthand the remnants of that period and to think about and try to understand the factors that can lead to genocide and the horrible consequences of genocide. The full article appears below.
Brighton-Pittsford Post Nazareth students visit death camps Kelly O’Connor • correspondent • June 23, 2008 Last month, 42 students and faculty from Nazareth and Hobart and William Smith Colleges traveled to Europe to better understand the devastation and terrorism that victims of the Holocaust endured. They returned with a new perspective of the tragedy, and a charge to speak out against intolerance. The trip was organized by the national organization March of Remembrance and Hope. Participants, including 17 students and two staff from Nazarth College in Pittsford, spent May 16 to 23 traveling Holocaust sites in Germany and Poland, led by guides who survived the genocide. Among the sites were concentration camps like Auschwitz and Majdanek and the Jewish ghettos of Warsaw. The program promotes tolerance and the importance of remembering the tragedy of the Holocaust, in which more than 6 million Jews and others were killed. According to its Web site, the goal is “to inspire participants to commit to building a world free of oppression and intolerance, a world of freedom, democracy and justice, for all the members of the human family.” Alicia Arendt, a sophomore art history and art education major at Nazareth, prepared herself for what she would witness by reading several books about the Holocaust. Still, Arendt said she was surprised to learn people still lived in the dilapidated buildings once used to segregate Jews from Poles in Warsaw. “You walked in the hallway, and you saw bullet holes in the walls,” she said. Lynne Boucher, the director for Nazareth’s Center for Spirituality, went on the trip for the second time. She watched as students struggled to absorb what they were learning. “They (the students) dove into the worst of humanity and allowed themselves to see it, face it, learn from it,” she said. “They were amazing.” During the trip, the group marched from Auschwitz to Birkenau. The walk was roughly 3 kilometers, and participants were encouraged to walk for a person or cause. Arendt works at School No. 2 in Rochester and chose to march for her students. At the end of the trip, March of Remembrance and Hope staff challenged the participants to speak out against injustice and intolerance they see in the world around them. Jennie Schaff, assistant professor for the graduate school of education at Nazareth, kept a blog for the week. It is her job to help the students fulfill their task of getting involved in the campus and community. “I’ll help them find ways in which to act out on hatred and injustices in this world today,” said Schaff, “by helping them write letters to editors or organizing events on campus.” Arendt has plans to speak out by incorporating her passion for art, and says her future artwork will be affected by her experience. She’s working on a three-part poster series dealing with the importance of witnessing acts of hatred. “It’s about being present in the moment and allowing oneself to feel this pain because soon we won’t have any survivors left,” she said. “By us going, it was a way for a small piece of us to connect, and feel a pain that isn’t close to what the survivors felt, but we have some reality of it.” Schaff hopes that students will remember the emotions they felt while standing in the deserted gas chambers, and apply them to making the world a better place. To read Schaff’s blog from the trip, visit the Web site at http://marchofremembranceandhope2008.blogspot.com