On Friday 8 November, Year 10 students along with staff were packed and ready to depart for their historical weekend in Krakow, Poland.
The main purpose for the trip to Poland was to visit Auschwitz and Birkenau, and for students to gather a greater understanding of the Holocaust. It was also an opportunity for the group to soak up some of the atmosphere and culture in one of Europe’s most beautiful medieval cities.
No sooner than the group landed and got settled in to the hotel, they were off out again exploring nearby cobblestoned streets and a multitude of traditional shops, cafes and market stalls.
For Stanley, seeing some of the places where ‘Schindler’s List’ was filmed was really very interesting, and Thomas enjoyed the sound of the bugle blowing every hour. The donut stall which was conveniently located just opposite the hotel would have taken huge profits during that particular weekend – just about all of the students sampled many of them!
The group loved all of the restaurants, and the opportunity to discover new flavours and dishes! Another highlight was the Klezmer concert – a musical tradition in Poland. Speaking of the experience, Sophia said, “As well as enjoying the food, the rhythms from the band were really special and we all clapped and sang along. It was a truly fantastic evening and I will treasure it forever!”
The Klezmorim band presented our students with a copy of their CD as they were so appreciative of the response. It’s wonderful to have a little bit of music to keep memories fresh!
The visit to Auschwitz and Birkenau was a deeply moving and thought-provoking experience for all, and everyone felt hugely affected by Krystyna’s story, a survivor of Auschwitz. Describing the experience, Ryley said, “I discovered information that made me shake”. Ilya recalls, “It’s amazing the things they had gone through, the ordeals that were faced and the people that helped Krystyna and her family through all of it.”
Krystyna’s message is something that all students have taken away: always have hope and joy when things go wrong.
Many conversations were had about how experiencing and seeing the sites at Auschwitz/Birkenau has meant learning about the Holocaust in a much deeper and personal way than just reading about it.
Eben has said that he is going to take everything he has learnt and put it into his day to day life. Tom thinks he has become more mature, and Danni says the trip has inspired her to make the most of every day. Mustafa has learnt how important it is to be good to each other and care for each other, and Ryley has learnt that it is possible to forgive, even though you may never forget.