Today was long but very meaningful (as all of our days have been). We started the day learning about a program in Middle School/High Schools that introduces Polish school children to Holocaust. The women giving the presentation not only told us about the program but also used visual aids; we watched videos about the integration of this program and it seemed as though there was a huge amount of growth that took place in the teen’s life. I was so surprised to know that so many of the teenagers in the videos knew so little about the Holocaust, as we often always associate Poland with the Holocaust. Although they discussed that some parents object to having these program in schools, for the most part it sounds as though families are extremely responsive to them as are schools. They also allowed one boy to come to Poland to make his bar mitzvah. His whole family was from Poland and had relatives in the Holocaust and this program made it possible for him to have his bar mitzvah.
In the afternoon we also learned about another great organization known as Hejt Stop. This organization rids the streets of Poland of graffiti using hate speech. The organization has a web address in which you can send in pictures of hate speech and then volunteers will take paint over it and remove it.
We then had a little bit of free time in which we got pirogues at a Polish restaurant and sat outside with a group of friends discussing if Poland is a “victim” or if it should take on some guilt for being a bystander during the Holocaust. I am not completely sure on where I stand on this issue. I believe that in some ways Poland should take on some responsibility but I guess this is hard to say when it is so clearly the victim. However, there was so much bystanding in Poland during this time that the country should take on some of that guilt.
We then took part in the “Memory March”. A long day- but certainly a meaningful one.