Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Daemen Students Arrive in Poland

Wilanow Palace, Warsaw. Left to right: Kaleigh Ratliff, Liz White, Tyler Vanice, Chelsea Sieczkarek, and Caitlyn Ebert.

Five Daemen College students arrived in Poland on 1 July. They will spend the entire month in Poland traveling to historic sites, attending lectures by faculty at Polish institutions of higher learning, and taking part in an important service learning project related to the restoration and preservation of a Jewish cemetery in Przemysl.

The five students are Kaleigh Ratliff, Caitlyn Ebert, Tyler Vanice, Liz White, and Chelsea Sieczkarek. Dr. Andrew Wise (Associate Professor of History and Chair, History & Political Science Department) is accompanying the students for the month. All students are participants in an exchange program between Daemen College and Panstwowa Wyzsza Szkola Wschodnioeuropejska (PWSW) in Przemysl, Poland.

During our first week in Poland, we visited Warsaw and Krakow. In future blog entries, we will discuss our activities in greater detail. For now, we would like to share some images from our time in Warsaw from 1-4 July.

We arrived at our hotel in Warsaw around 2:00 pm on 1 July. The folks at Ibis Hotel Stare Miasto (located in Old Town) kindly stored our baggage while we waited for our rooms to be readied. Although tired from a long trip, students were eager to see the city. We walked a mere two blocks before we came across the moving monument to the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, which commemorates the mass armed response to German occupation during World War II.
Monument to the Warsaw Uprising.

Perhaps it was fitting that our time in Warsaw ended on July 4th with an afternoon tour of the Museum of the Warsaw Uprising.

Kaleigh Ratliff in front of the Warsaw Uprising Museum.

Our formal program began on 2 July with a lecture at the University of Warsaw. Dr. Slawomir Jozefowicz delivered an excellent overview of Polish-Jewish relations. Our summer program has been funded in part by a grant from the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and its focus is on Polish-Jewish relations in modern times. After the lecture, Dr. Jozefowicz guided us on a tour of the University.
Dr. Wise and Dr. Jozefowicz are pictured with students in an elegant meeting room near the Rector's office.

Our tour of the University concluded with a visit to the rooftop garden on top of the main library. The garden provides magnificent views of the city.
Daemen students enjoying the view from the library gardens.

The next day was dedicated to a series of lecture tours about the long history of Jewish culture in Poland. Students also visited sites located in the area of the Warsaw Ghetto that was constructed during the German occupation of World War II.
Monument to the Ghetto Heroes.

Facing the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes is the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Although open to the public, the museum is still installing its permanent exhibits. We were able to tour the site and glimpse some of the exhibits.  The photo below provides a view of the front entrance, which faces the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes.
Pictured with students is Agata Obratanska, International Relations Office Coordinator at PWSW.

Our lecture tour of the ghetto concluded with a visit to a large Jewish cemetery. The cemetery survived the war and continues to function today.
Memorial at the Jewish cemetery that is dedicated to children who died in the Holocaust.

On our final afternoon in Warsaw (July 4th), Dr. Wojciech Brochwicz-Lewinski met with students to discuss his experience in restoring and preserving Jewish cemeteries that were devastated during the German occupation in World War II. Dr. Brochwicz-Lewinski works with the Polish Jewish Cemetery Restoration Project (PJCRP). Founded and directed by Dr. Norman Weinberg of Amherst, the PJCRP has worked throughout Poland since 2001. While in Poland, Daemen students will assist Dr. John Hartman (founder of Remembrance and Reconciliation, Inc.) in a mapping project at the Jewish cemetery in Przemysl. Dr. Hartman has led restoration efforts there since 1999.
Dr. Brochwicz-Lewinski visiting with Daemen students near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw.

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