Thursday, July 26, 2012

Run Dedicated to my Brother David

I stayed in bed this morning contemplating whether I wanted to get out and run or take the day off. I opted to run, more for Sam's benefit than my own. I think she loves having me home so that she can get out of the house and get some exercise, and it seems like we are getting back into shape together. (Right now she is asleep on the couch.)

My plan was to run 4 miles this morning, but I cut it short because I pulled my right hamstring. Actually, I'm pretty sure I pulled it Tuesday, ran on it yesterday, and then really felt it today. Total distance - 3.2 miles. Time - 27:54. Average pace - 8:49. Not bad, considering I felt like I was going much slower. I think I will hit up the bike tomorrow and begin working more bike workouts into my exercise routine.

Looking at the race calendar for the next few months, my plans have changed.

1. I thought about doing the DeWitt Triathlon but have decided against it. I'm sure I could do it, but it would be painful and I would hate my life. I'll get back to it next year.
2. Ouch Half Marathon - I'm playing this by ear. I'm registered for the half, but I am considering dropping down to the 5k. It really depends on my long runs the next few weeks.
3. Quad City Marathon - Instead of running the marathon, I am running the half. There was no way I could have gotten in my long runs overseas, and I am starting from scratch as it is. I am actually a little relieved that I'm going to be running the half because I feel much more comfortable at that distance.
4. Rails to Trails Marathon - November 4th. Erin said she is running this marathon, so I have opted to make this my marathon for this year. The date will give me more time to train, and it will be cooler, which always plays to my favor.

So there you have it. I am a little frustrated because I left on my trip in pretty good shape and I returned feeling like I lost everything. I know I can get back to where I was, but it takes so much work and pain to get there.

Today's run is dedicated to my actual brother David. (As opposed to Brother Dave. David is a common name in my family.) David will be a sophomore in high school and just turned sixteen. I was ten when he was born, and I remember being so excited to have a brother; I even made a scrapbook of his first year for the county fair. Our relationship is different than the ones with my sisters because we really didn't grow up in the same house; I went to college when he was eight years old. That being said, we get along well and I am so glad he is a part of our family. He gets along really well with my husband, and they like to play video games, watch action movies, and eat wings and pizza.

Not having any kids of my own yet, I have made it a priority to attend as many of his cross-country meets, track meets, and marching band shows as possible. He's also in concert band, and maybe I should make more of an effort to attend those concerts in order for him to see that sports aren't everything in life. But then, I'll leave that to his parents :). David has become a hard worker when it comes to running. He sets goals and works to achieve them. He was the only freshman at his districts to qualify in the top ten for state cross-country and he helped qualify the 4x800 team for state track. He has matured quite a bit, even since eighth grade. He is better able to take things in stride and consider the effect something might have - or won't have - in the long run. He also got his first job this summer working at Mycogen. He is growing up so quickly, and I truly think he is a great kid.

At Jessica and Kyle's wedding - he is now officially taller than me

RAGBRAI 2011 - Stopping for some breakfast burritos!

State Cross-Country 2011

David finishing the Quad City Triathlon 2011

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Home Sweet Home

Well, I am writing this while sitting on Jessica's couch watching HGTV. Yesterday was long! By the time I got home, I had been up for twenty-four hours. I stepped out of the airport and was immediately hit with heat and humidity. No more fifty-degree weather for me.

Getting home is bittersweet. I am so happy to be here; I missed my family and my routine. That being said, I was very comfortable with the people on my trip and made quite a few friends. I was surrounded by educators who wanted to learn and wanted to be there. Now I have the task of putting everything I have learned together. Only two more weeks and I'm getting back into the swing of school.

My running has suffered because of my trip, but I am not upset at all; instead, I have altered my goals. I am moving my marathon to November and will run the Quad City half marathon. My training will pick up again tomorrow.

Here are some things I have learned while traveling:

1. I-pad over laptop - I chose to take my laptop because I wanted to be able to upload pictures. It turns out, most of our hotels did not have free wi-fi, so uploading pictures wasn't really a priority. Also, there is a cord I could have bought that would allow me to connect my camera to my I-pad.

2. Bring limited cash - Exchanges/kantors charge commission, so ATM's are the way to go.

3. Bring travel-sized items - Really. I chose to bring regular-sized shampoo, conditioner, and body wash because I thought three weeks was quite a long time. It turns out our hotels were nice enough to have pretty good items in the bathrooms. My toiletries contributed greatly to my luggage weight.

4. Really, bring only what I use at home - I brought lotion, but I don't even use lotion at home. I thought, Well, you never know... Actually, I do know. I also brought all of my make-up, even though I don't wear make-up at home. I used it once. I brought wedges that I wore only once, and sandals that I didn't wear at all. Consolidation is key.

5. Bring less clothes-wash more often - Tank tops aren't necessary. T-shirts will suffice. Dresses are nice, but they don't allow one to mix and match.

6. The smaller the luggage the better - I had to schlep everything around.

7. Bring a watch and sunglasses

8. Always bring feminine products. You never know when someone might need them.

9. Really, try not to worry about money, but think twice about purchases.

10. Drink plenty of water.

11. If taking a journal, make sure it is spiraled and can be folded back. It should be small enough to fit in a purse/bag.

12. Bring rain gear! And make sure the rain coat has pockets.

13. Bring nail clippers and tweezers.

14. Always keep food with you. And don't feel bad about taking food from breakfast at the hotel.

I'm sure there's more, but that's what I have right now. Below are a few pictures from the last part of my trip.

My hotel room at the Bristol Hotel in Warsaw. It was divine. 

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Memorial.

The night we went to a Chopin concert in a palace. I loved getting dressed up.

The Bristol Hotel was right next to the Presidential Palace. It was like staying right next to the White House.

Friday, July 20, 2012

My Last Day in Poland

It's hard to believe tomorrow morning at this time I will be on a plane with a destination of Newark, New Jersey. While I have had an amazing experience, I am ready to be back in Iowa.

Yesterday was amazing. I don't mean I had a pretty good time. I mean, I had experiences that I don't think I will ever have again. Monnie and I got up early, swam for half an hour, and then sat in the sauna. What a relaxing way to begin the day. We then got on the bus and went to a teachers' institute here in Warsaw. I was able to get an idea of how the Holocaust is taught to students in Poland. We then visited the last remaining part of the Warsaw Ghetto wall, the memorial at Mila 18, and the Umschlagplatz (the station where people were deported from Warsaw).

We were then given the afternoon off, so I went with a group to get something for lunch (again, I had chicken noodle soup). I walked around for a bit, saw some sites, and then went back to the hotel to get ready.

Okay, here is the experience:  We were taken to a replica of an old palace where we were treated to a private, exclusive Chopin recital performed by Maciej Poliszewski. He studied at Julliard and at the Music Academy in Moscow. It was amazing. We were in a small room that reminded me of Pemberley. The pianists face displayed all of the emotion of the music.

After dinner, we ate at Belvedere. Again, fantastic. We were treated to a three course meal consisting of salmon, duck, pears, and white chocolate mousse.

When we got back to the hotel, a few of us found a black and white movie playing outside of a cafe. Although it was in Polish, we grabbed some hot chocolates and enjoyed the end of the film.

This was the perfect day. Today we are off to Treblinka, and then tomorrow, we leave. I feel like I have been gone for ages, and yet I feel like there is so much more I need to experience. I will post pictures later as the wireless connection here is terrible.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Running Overseas

So far, I have run in three countries. I must say, I am rather proud of myself for getting up and getting at it so often. I figured I would be the only one exercising, so I looked at the workout rooms ahead of time, believing I would be on the treadmill for three weeks. Boy was I wrong. I have yet to work out in a gym; rather, I have found people who love running as much as I do.

As much as I liked running in Israel, it was hot and hilly. Germany was nice, but I have truly enjoyed running in Poland. The morning weather has been around 50 degrees and the streets seem to go on forever. I am appreciating my Garmin more and more. It is so nice to know the distance and pace of each run, especially when running in totally random places.

While I have thoroughly enjoyed exploring in the wee-hours of the morning while most people are sleeping, I am ready to be home. There is something to be said about knowing where I am going, approximately how far the distance is, and that I am safe (I will not run by myself). Literally, I have been running on 5-6 hours of sleep each night, which is far less than I need to function at home.

My reasons for running have been reaffirmed during my trip. There were a few days of traveling that I did not get up and run, and I was jittery, antsy, and just annoyed more easily. Running has helped me relax (maybe a little too much. I find my eyes drooping in the early afternoon). I have also come to view exercise in general as vital to a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle. I consider myself in pretty good shape, and so I move around quite easily. Stairs do not pose a problem, and I can walk for extended periods of time. That is required for a trip like this, but there are a number of people on this trip who struggle by the end of the day. I am grateful that running is enjoyable.

There is a woman on this trip who used to do gymnastics and run, even setting a state record in high school in the 1500 meter run. She is now severely overweight, and she said that she had accomplished what she wanted in high school, moved on, and has not exercised since. Her experience made me think about all of those athletes in high school who put their whole selves into a sport and then get burnt out, only to become sedentary later in life. While I was by no means fast in high school, I went out for cross-country in track because I enjoyed it (for the most part). Somehow, that has stuck with me, and I believe that's what we need to get across to people. I am not running to set any records or even compete against other people. I run because it keeps me healthy, and if I get a PR, great. I guess I want to encourage people more to just get out there an do something.

Side note:  I truly thought I would lose weight on this trip because I didn't think I would enjoy any of the food. Wrong! There has been bread galore, and I have taken to making a few cheese sandwiches and sneaking them out of the breakfast area for late-afternoon snacks. Fish has been served a few times for dinner. In Israel we primarily had buffet style meals, but in Germany and Poland, most dinners are three-course meals. A few nights ago I had some delectable split-pea soup followed by chicken and mashed potatoes, and then a brownie. Last night we went to a local restaurant and had a grilled chicken salad, salmon, and then chocolate mousse. Tonight was mushroom-potato soup, turkey with cheese dumplings and cranberries, and then ice cream topped with pears and chocolate syrup. Like I said, I have not gone hungry. As a matter of fact, I would not be surprised if I gained weight!

Yesterday was the day when everything caught up to me. My body was exhausted and I just really wanted to go home. I'm a little better today (my friend Monnie and I went for a swim this afternoon followed by some time in the sauna), but I really am ready to be home. I am now counting the days and checking my flights home.

Sorry I don't have pictures. The internet at the hotel is uber-slow...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Lublin - Poland

Today was spent on the bus. We left Krakow at 7:30 a.m. and I was able to get a short run in beforehand. I ran 2.5 miles with Toshimi, and we were able to make it to the river, which was located close to our hotel.

Our stop for the day was at Belzec, one of the killing centers that was part of Operation Reinhard. Operation Reinhard was not devised by Reinhard Heydrich, but it was eventually named in "honor" of him after he died (by wounds suffered after an assassination attempt). Over 400,000 Jews were killed at Belzec in a span of only six months. Operation Reinhard camps were established for one purpose - to destroy Polish Jews. The "buildings" that were constructed at this camp were made out of tin, making it obvious that this was not meant to be a permanent camp (unlike a camp like Auschwitz, which had many brick and mortar buildings).

Elaine, the program director, shared a little of her father's story. He is a survivor of Mauthasen, but his family was killed at Belzec. His mother was pregnant and, after delivering her baby in a hospital, was taken to Belzec. Along with her went Elaine's father's two younger siblings and the new baby. Not knowing her name, Elaine's father and his brother eventually named her Sarah (after the war). What is devastating is that people who came to this camp never even had a chance. They got off the train right in front of the camp, dropped their belongings, and were sent to the gas chambers. The only people who were kept alive were those replacing other slave laborers.

Again, I thought about those who never even had a chance; those men, women, and children whose lives were taken from them. One thing that has been stressed on this trip is focusing on remembering the lives lost. People who were murdered had traditions, families, and lives that were destroyed. One woman at Auschwitz found a muddy puddle and washed her face with the water because that is what humans do - they keep clean. Another woman in a ghetto paid a rabbi with food she was supposed to be eating so that her son could have a bar mitzvah. Chess sets have been found during excavations of camps. People wanted to hold on to their humanity.

Tomorrow will bring a short tour of Lublin and then we are visiting Majdanek. It is hard to believe that I am here for only four more days.

Wall of names of those who were killed at Belzec.

Lublin. Unfortunately, we are only here for one night.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Poland - Krakow

I needed today. Yesterday was emotionally draining, and we really have not had a break during this trip; there has always been something planned. This morning we went to a synagogue, the Galacia Museum, the Schindler Museum, and the Krakow Ghetto Memorial. It was a pretty full morning. I was able to sleep in until seven o'clock, but that almost made me more tired!

Lunch was had at a restaurant in the town square, and then we were able to do some shopping. It was great to just walk around and enjoy being in the city. I went with a group to E. Wedel, which has great chocolate. The hot chocolate was divine, and I ended up purchasing more chocolate than I probably need.

This is a short post, which is fine with me. Tomorrow we leave early in the morning for Belzec. I have five more days in Poland until I leave to come home. Last night at our after-dinner meeting, I experienced a situation that made me long for home. Today provided the rejuvenation I need to make it through the rest of the week. The people here are great, and the nice thing is that I can spend time with different people and get to know all of them.

p.s. I won't get into it now, but I have truly learned to appreciate PV more than I did before. I've had conversations with teachers about their districts, schools, administrators, and curricula, and I have come to the conclusion that I have a pretty solid position.

Yesterday my post was not uplifting in the least, so I will leave you with some more positive pictures from today.

The gate to Schindler's Factory. These are not originals; rather, they are designed this way because that's how they are in the movie.

Enjoying THE BEST cup of hot chocolate in the world at E. Wedel. It is like a melted chocolate bar in a cup. 

Today's lunch group. We walked, talked, ate, and shopped. It was a refreshing afternoon (and it didn't rain!).

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Poland - Auschwitz and Birkenau

Today was a difficult day that can only be described in one word - overwhelming. I went first to Auschwitz and then to Auschwitz II-Birkenau. There are few words to describe how I felt while going through certain parts of the camps. I was a little disappointed to see a large number of people when we got to Auschwitz; it seemed more like a tourist attraction than a former concentration camp.

(In case you didn't know, Auschwitz I was a concentration camp and Auschwitz II-Birkenau was an extermination camp. The famous picture of tracks leading to a large brick building is actually at Birkenau.)

There were a few things that hit me in Auschwitz. First were the suitcases. When I walked into one of the rooms in Number 5, there was an entire wall full of suitcases. Each suitcase had an owner, and most of the owners had put their names and dates on the front of their luggage. The mounds of suitcases reminded me of my group and the fact that we all have suitcases. All we see while traveling are people with suitcases. Our pieces of luggage contain what we think we need, and the same would have held true for these suitcases. Each suitcase had an owner.

The other thing that hit me was the abundance of shoes. In one room, both sides were filled with piles of shoes. To think, each pair of shoes had an owner. Someone chose to wear those shoes over other shoes. Someone chose to purchase those shoes for whatever purposes. These mounds of shoes reminded me that individuals were killed. Entire families were destroyed.

The third thing, the place that had the greatest effect on me, was the children's barrack in Birkenau. There were sketches on the walls that children had been allowed to create. I began thinking about an excerpt from one of our packets we were given at the beginning of the trip - excerpts from I Was a Doctor in Auschwitz by Gisella Perl. She describes making the decision to save pregnant mothers from certain death by destroying their children. In her situation, pregnant women were treated terribly by the SS in the camp. Any woman with a child was automatically sent to the gas chambers. I will not even try to imagine having to make that decision, nor do I encourage you to. Instead, I thought of my sister, who is expecting a child in December. I thought about all of those mothers who loved their children and wanted what was best for them. I thought of all of those children who never got a chance to grow up, to have the experiences that you and I have come to expect. The lives destroyed is unfathomable.

So far on this trip, I have been to Bergen-Belsen, Ravensbruck, Sachsenhausen, Auschwitz I, and Auschwitz II-Birkenau. It irks me when someone refers to a camp or camps as the most important because, while a great number of people might have died in one camp over another, it all depends on one's context. People died everywhere. Each camp is important to someone. That being said, Birkenau was emotionally the most difficult for me to handle.

Teaching-wise, I have started to think about how my teaching and my unit will change next year. There is no doubt some things have to go, and I plan on utilizing more artifacts in the classroom. My colleagues and I have focused so much on presenting the overall history of the Holocaust that we have failed to focus students on the people involved who risked their lives or lost their lives. I am going to develop clear rationales for what I am doing and use more survivor testimony, artifacts, pictures, and documents. I am proud that we include art and the Holocaust in our unit, and I would like to go back to students doing some sort of an inquiry project focusing on one aspect of the Holocaust.

I will leave you with a few pictures from last week. It has been a while since I written an update, and I have been many places. Some of these are focused more on history before and after the Holocaust.
Olympic Stadium - at the top of the Olympic Tower - the Berlin Olympics in 1936  did play a role in how countries viewed Nazi-run Germany. While some journalists, athletes, and spectators saw through the facade, others bought into it.

Wannsee Villa

At the Berlin Wall

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Israel - Yad Vashem and Jerusalem

Okay, let me begin with a picture of my hotel bathroom.

Mamilla Hotel bathroom

This is the bath/shower area. Notice you can see directly into the main room. There is a switch that will turn the glass opaque making it nearly impossible to see through. I can't even describe the feeling of taking a shower in here after a long day of hoofing it around Jerusalem.

Today began with a trip to Yad Vashem, Israel's memorial to the Holocaust, or Shoah. For those of you who know me well, you know that I am almost an emotionless person. I don't really get choked-up and it's often difficult for me to empathize. This description might be different once I get to Europe and tour some of the concentration camps, but right now, it remains. I feel like I take more of a historical approach when touring museums. When going through the USHMM in D.C., we were instructed to focus on artifacts that we could use with students in order for them to understand whatever it is we want them to understand. This helped me not get so emotional. I think emotion has much to do with this topic, but that's not my goal; I am not out to make students feel bad and cry. I would rather they attempt to understand this evolution and its importance to the world today. 

I don't remember if I mentioned this in a previous post, but every day I think about if what I am learning should be taught in the eighth-grade classroom and, if so, why. What is the rationale. I hear teachers talk about using this artifact or that artifact, and while it might be a cool idea, they are not starting with a rationale. At Lo'Hamei - the Ghetto Fighters' Museum - there is a wall on which symbols in both English and Hebrew scroll and create words. One teacher said she is brainstorming having her students do something similar to this in the classroom. She didn't explain any further, but I don't understand what students would get out of that activity. Are they going to do research and construct knowledge, or are they going to cut out slips of paper and then sit back and watch others present? Something to think about.

That being said, Yad Vashem was powerful, especially the Hall of Names. This chamber is located at the very end of the permanent exhibit and includes every known Holocaust victim's name. While six million Jews died during the Holocaust, Yad Vashem has only three million names. That means there are roughly three million people who died whose names remain unknown. Our tour guide today told us that there is a Jewish response to a Jewish question:  How long does a man live? He lives as long as his name is remembered. That is such a powerful statement, and it seems to describe the human race so well. We do things so that we can be remembered. At the end, what do we really have? Sure, we have family, friends, objects. But when we die, those things are gone. Three million people died, and so far, there is absolutely no trace of them. Nothing. I think that's the statement that has had the most effect on me today. 

Partisan Memorial at Yad Vashem. Notice how the rocks create a Star of David with a sword in the middle. Represents both spiritual and armed resistance.

After Yad Vashem, we were dropped off in the Old City and were guided back to Jaffa Gate. I was able to go to the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (which I had been to a few days ago), the building in which Christians claim houses King David's tomb and was the place of the Last Supper, and I was able to follow a few of the Stations of the Cross. While I am amazed to be in such a historical place, I feel like being here brings more questions than answers. The history of the city of Jerusalem alone is fascinating. For example, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre allegedly houses the slab of rock on which Jesus' body was prepared after his death and part of the stone which was rolled across his tomb. It also houses Golgatha, the hill on which Jesus was crucified. I say allegedly because no one knows for certain (though I suppose it would depend on whom you ask). What is interesting from a historical standpoint is that the church is Greek Orthodox, but the person who holds the key to the church is a Muslim. Inside, different rooms belong to different denominations. In all, there are six denominations arguing over the building. In the Old City, there are four quarters:  the Jewish Quarter, the Christian Quarter, the Muslim Quarter, and the Armenian Quarter. Different historical sites are located in different quarters, and different groups control different areas. The same sites are sacred to at least three different religions - Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. And within those religions are denominations that don't necessarily agree with each other.

Western Wall
You might be wondering what all of this history has to do with the Holocaust and Holocaust education. Well, if we don't know history, we will not be able to fully understand the present. Antisemitism was not a construct of the Nazi Party. Adolf Hitler did not introduce Antisemitism to the Nazi Party. It has been around for thousands of years, and there is no simple answer to any "why?" question regarding the Holocaust. One thing that I have truly discovered on this trip so far is the more I learn, the more I don't know. The Holocaust is not a black-and-white topic. There are layers, which makes it that much more complicated. 

I am off to Hanover, Germany, tomorrow afternoon. I'll keep you updated as much as possible.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Israel - Jerusalem

You know, one would think there would be certain things to be left behind in the States when traveling to another country:  English as the primary language, foods, community, etc. I must say, I was not surprised when sat down in the lobby this morning and heard

She wears short skirts, I wear t-shirts
She's cheer captain and I'm on the bleachers...

But I was a bit disappointed. Apparently, one cannot get away from T. Swift, even in Israel! As Monnie was the only person who met me in the lobby this morning, I ended up walking with her around Jerusalem. There is something to be said for waking up before the city and taking everything in as the sun rises.

We got into Jerusalem yesterday (Friday) around 2:30 and immediately went into the Old City. What an amazing sight. I was able to try falafel - deep-fried, ground chickpeas rolled in seasoning and eaten in a pita. Not my favorite, but I can say I gave falafel a shot. A group of us meandered around and ended up at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. There must have been mass at 4:45 because all of a sudden a mass of people swarmed the church. That was our cue to leave as we will be going back to the Old City tomorrow for an official tour.

(I must mention that, on our way to Jerusalem, we stopped at Massuah. This is a museum that focuses on Adolf Eichmann. So interesting.)

Today was, in one word, amazing. We drove to Masadah, which is an Israeli National Park. Built by King Herod, it is known in Israel because Jews who were kicked out of Jerusalem found refuge at this former palace. They were later surrounded by Romans and, instead of being captured and used as slaves, they committed suicide.

View of the Dead Sea from Masadah

The next stop was the Dead Sea - the lowest point on Earth. At 122 degrees Fahrenheit, the water felt wonderful. This would be the perfect place for a triathlon (well, besides the heat) if it weren't for the salt; you cannot sink. I walked in, leaned back, and immediately floated. I had to physically push down my legs in order to stand.

Dead Sea

Our last stop for the day was Ein Gedi, a natural falls in the desert. Boy was this a welcome treat. The water was cool and the company delightful.

Ein Gedi

All in all, this has been an instructive and amazing experience thus far. Tomorrow we are going to Yad Vashem and then touring the Old City. A day and a half left in Israel and then it's off to Germany. I'm thinking I'm going to skip my run in the morning, seeing as how it is now midnight and our wake-up call is at 6:30 a.m. Hey, I need a break every once in a while!

p.s. My hotel (Mamilla Hotel) is spectacular, especially the bathroom in my room. Pictures to come.

In front of the Old City right outside of Jaffa Gate.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Israel - Haifa

Okay, I don't have much time for this post as I am sitting on a park bench using random free wi-fi. 
Really. This is a view from where I am sitting.

We made it to Israel and are staying in Haifa. I was able to go for a 4.5 mile run this morning with two of my companions, Steve and Karen, both from California. If you think Brady Street hill is bad, come run the hills in Haifa. The city was established along the Mediterranean, and then it was built up. What a good hill workout! And a great way to see the city. Our group traveled to Lo'Hamei today, which is the Ghetto Fighters' Museum. It is located on a kibbutz. This was an awesome museum that had information regarding Treblinka, resistance fighters in the ghettos, and art as resistance. I have gathered so much information already to use in the classroom.


On our way back, we stopped at the Bahai Gardens.
Bahai Gardens. Overlooking the Mediterranean. 
It's 8:42 right now and we have a big day ahead of us tomorrow - we drive to Jerusalem and are there for three nights. Like I said, I'm thoroughly enjoying my time here. I'll try to keep you updated!

p.s. Happy anniversary to my wonderful husband!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

July 3, 2012

Okay. I am sitting at Dulles in D.C. waiting for a 5:55 departure to Frankfurt. I flew into D.C. on Saturday night, having no real problems - aside from my luggage arriving on the flight after mine. No big deal though; I was in no rush (I knew there was a reason I was flying in a day early).

Sunday morning, I met Erin, David, and my dad and we did a long run on the Capitol Crescent trail. Boy ways it warm! Sweat was dripping down my legs and my shoes were soaked. I'd like to dedicate this run to my brother David. He turned sixteen yesterday and is growing up so quickly. I remember him being "pretzel boy" with rolls all over. He was such an adorable little boy! And now he is grown up. I told him on our run this morning that he really has matured, and I feel like we are becoming friends rather than just siblings. I think he enjoys hanging out with my husband more than me, but I'm okay with that. I love going to David's cross-country and track meets; I am so proud of his hard work and the time he puts into improving himself. I just love having a brother.

Sunday afternoon brought our first group meeting. Dinner was at the hotel - salad, chicken with mushrooms, and some sort of chocolate pudding dessert. After that we met Max and Hanne Liebmann and heard their story of survival of the Holocaust.
Max and Hanne
Monday we went to the USHMM and were able to tour it for three hours - not much time. However, we were sent with the task of focusing on artifacts and how those affect our understanding. We were then able to meet Suzy Snyder, a curator at the museum. She talked about various survivors and answered the many questions we had. That night we again had dinner at the hotel - salad, mahi mahi, and a brownie - and met Henry Greenbaum. Henry is a survivor of Auschwitz who later also survived a death march.
This morning brought a monuments run with Mom, Dad, Erin, and David. I then went back to the hotel, attended a meeting, and then met up with everyone (including Cody) for lunch at Pizzeria Paradiso.
Getting yogurt/ice cream.

This trip is going to be taxing both physically and mentally. I know there will be many changes to be made to my Holocaust unit upon return. One thing that has been stressed already - that we teachers do but at the same time do not - is rationale. What is the purpose not only of a lesson, but of using a particular excerpt or artifact? Particularly regarding the Holocaust, teachers oftentimes go for the shock factor - what images or stories are going to get students' emotions going. This, however, is not the point. Students might think about a situation for a short time, but the understanding is lost. Instead, what do students need to understand? What is the purpose? Sorry for the rant, but this is something I need to be reminded of every once in a while.

I've learned much already about teaching practices and history in general. I am so excited about what else there is in store on this trip. I'm running out of time, as people are getting their items in order so that we can board the plane. I'll try to keep you updated, but my last hotel did not have free wi-fi.