Many of our CEESA schools have a week when students engage in an educational experience away from campus. Some call it Fall Trip or Week Without Walls or something else, but they all have similarities. Some common goals of these trips are:
- "To strengthen relationships among students, as well as among students and faculty;”
- “To acquaint students with the cultural and historical features of the region they are visiting;”
- “To enhance and support student academic excellence.”
With students in our schools from all over the world, any of these goals are worthwhile. Establishing a curricular connection makes the trip all the more meaningful.
One such trip at AIS Budapest takes the entire class of grade ten students to Krakow, Poland. After the invasion of Poland at the start of World War II, Kraków became the capital of Germany's General Government. Poles and Jews were classified as Untermenschen by the Nazis and were targeted for eventual extermination. The Jewish population of the city was moved into a walled zone known as the Kraków Ghetto, from which they were sent to German extermination camps such as the nearby Auschwitz and Birkenau. For many Hungarian students, this encounter with the tragic fate of their country’s citizenry can become a personal experience.
“Between late April and early July 1944, approximately 440,000 Hungarian Jews were deported, of which approximately 426,000 of them were sent to Auschwitz. The SS sent approximately 320,000 of them directly to the gas chambers in Auschwitz-Birkenau and deployed approximately 110,000 at forced labor in the Auschwitz concentration camp complex.”
As an English assignment, students write a reflection about their experiences. The following is an excerpt from the writing of two years ago by now senior Julia Karas. We don’t have to look much further to understand how impactful our “Fall Trips” can be:
“It wasn’t the elaborate museum at Auschwitz that we saw during the fall trip that grabbed my attention. I caught the somber mood that the sad artifacts and chilling pictures gave off, but they did not move me in the way that Birkenau did. As we stood at the entrance to the camp by the train tracks, many thoughts came to mind. I thought of how there were cattle cars transporting people moving on the very tracks we were walking on. I thought of how the people were separated and either made to walk to their deaths or to excruciating labor until their death. I wondered whether it had been raining all those years ago like it was the day we visited. I wondered what the liberators thought when they came upon the blown up gas chambers and living dead people in the barracks. I studied the bunks and decided it couldn’t possibly be true that ten people could fit in one. I stared in disbelief at the makeshift toilets when we learned that even the time for people to relieve themselves was monitored. I looked at the incredibly long stretches of workhouses and barracks and wondered how something so evil and disastrous could be so organized and calculated. I gazed at the memorials decorated with simple stones and hoped that in some way the victims and sufferers of that place were finally resting in peace. I hoped that we, the people of today, are doing them justice by the tours and memorials and survivor services. And through the calm of the steady drizzle of rain, I came to the decision that we were.”