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Italy Center Explores Poland

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Spring Hill College (SHC) offers an opportunity for students to study abroad in Bologna, Italy. This human rights focused study abroad program is centered around social justice academics and traveling. This fall students studying abroad in Italy had the opportunity to travel to Poland to embark on a social justice trip. Many students like SHC junior Brigit Reynolds did not know what to expect before heading to Poland. The students were able to be immersed into the culture and history of Poland and endured incredible experiences. The abroad students had a jam packed trip with a lot to learn and process. Reynolds said, “We were able to learn about the different struggles that Poland has faced and is currently facing and how people our age played such an important role in helping solve these issues. We also got to hear from a law student in Toruń that was very active in the fight for women’s rights among other things.”  

Students are often challenged by the director Todd Waller to reflect on the involvements they have throughout the humanities trip. For many students emotions ran high during discussions on World War Ⅱ. For Reynolds it was hard for her not to be emotional, “The low of my trip was probably going to the Warsaw uprising museum because it was the first place that we really got immersed in the absolute horror that Poland was faced with during WW2. It was hard to get into that mindset and not let it overpower you.” The group of students has the chance to take a tour of Auschwitz, the infamous concentration camp ran by German Nazi’s where thousands of Jews died. SHC junior Kate Huete also attended the social justice and humanities trip in Poland, “Before entering Auschwitz, I was pretty scared. I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t know how I was going to react at what I was about to experience. I was about to enter a place that I have been growing up learning about all my life, a place where millions of people met their terrible deaths, and I couldn’t wrap my mind around actually being there.” Both Huete and Reynolds experienced their breaths becoming deeper and their heart pounding fast as they entered Auschwitz processing the tour of the camp was difficult.

Both students mentioned that that they faced a harsh reality in Poland. Huete said, “What I took away from the trip is that every country has its own history and background, and that other countries have their own very dramatic and life-changing events that we don’t even have the slightest idea about. I think this trip has taught me to try not to be so wrapped up in my own country’s issues and try to be more aware of what is happening in other parts of the world, as some of the issues are way bigger than what America is going through right now.” Both students believe it is important to know what is going on in other countries and the issues that are occurring there and to never be silent so that mass atrocities like the Holocaust never happen again.

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