Information sessions for participation in The March: Bearing Witness to Hope trip — a biannual student leadership program and mission to Germany and Poland — will be held on the HWS campus in November.
Led by Holocaust scholars and Holocaust survivors who play an integral part in the program as they travel and engage with trip participants, The March 2016 is scheduled from May 16 to 25. Approximately 16 Hobart and William Smith students will be selected. They will join Professor of Religious Studies Michael Dobkowski as well as a team from Nazareth College in Rochester and a group of local community members for the seventh time since 2002.
The trip guides participants through the museums, monuments and memorials that commemorate the once thriving Jewish cultural centers in Berlin, Warsaw, Krakow and Lublin that were destroyed during World War II. The survivors, scholars and mentors leading the trip help students process and absorb the experiences as the group tours historic locations remembering acts of resistance and rescue, as well as the death camps of Treblinka, Majdanek and Auschwitz-Birkenau, where life ended for millions.
“Although the 2016 trip will basically follow the model of our earlier trips, we always try to include several new sites and experiences,” says Dobkowski.
This year’s trip will include visits to the Polin: Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which opened last year, as well as the new exhibit and memorial in the Warsaw Zoo focusing on an extraordinary example of resistance and rescue.
“Given the unfolding humanitarian refugee crisis in Europe, the worst since World War II, this year’s trip is particularly timely,” Dobkowski says. “Germany is taking a lead role in accommodating these refugees and we will spend some time interacting with Germans who are informed and involved with the issue to better understand the dynamics and what possibly can be learned from the Holocaust experience.”
Beth O’Connor ’12, who went on the 2010 March and helped Dobkowski organize the 2012 March, said that the relationships formed during the trip, “add to our understanding through the appreciation of survivors beyond their victimization. The personal testimony offered by survivors, complemented by the lectures and vignettes of tour guides and professors, makes the March a very unique experience.”
Devan Mizzoni ’13, who attended the 2012 March, said of the trip, “we were surrounded by personal, academic and reflective accounts from our leaders, community members, and fellow students. This was one of the most valuable aspects of the trip.”
When the group returns from the March — which through a Reader’s College course carries a half-credit for all students who enroll — participants are encouraged to become involved in campus initiatives that share the goals of The March: a commitment to identify, confront and transform situations of prejudice, bigotry, and intolerance, institutionally as well as interpersonally, and work for the eradication of genocidal forces in the world today.
In 2015, the Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation granted Hobart and William Smith Colleges and Nazareth College endowments totaling $500,000 to offset the cost for students to participate in The March. So, while the actual cost of the trip is approximately $3,800 per student, student participants will be asked to pay $1,400, though active fundraising for The March is also taking place to help make up the difference.
Information sessions will be held as follows:
Monday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m. in Demarest 117B
Tuesday, Nov. 10, at 5 p.m. in Demarest 117B
If you are interested in the trip but are not able to attend one of the information sessions, please email Dobkowski at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The deadline for applications is Friday, Dec. 18, 2015, and should be sent to the Department of Religious Studies attn: Michael Dobkowski.
The application requires two letters of recommendation as well as a medical clearance form and a passport, so interested students are advised to begin the application process as soon as possible.