Liv­ing his­tory

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

The Holo­caust is con­sid­ered one of the darkest pe­ri­ods in hu­man his­tory.

Stu­dents at Car­bon­ear Col­le­giate got the re-live it step-by-step dur­ing the school’s trip to Europe.

Be­fore and dur­ing the Second World War, Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Ger­many com­mit­ted one of the dead­li­est geno­cides in his­tory when they killed some six mil­lion Jewish peo­ple in Europe from 1933 to 1945.

Car­bon­ear Col­le­gaite teacher Ed­ward Jarvis or­ga­nized the tour with the Holo­caust in mind. His healthy in­ter­est in the sub­ject fed his de­sire to turn the Europe ex­pe­ri­ence into an ed­u­ca­tional one for his stu­dents.

“It was pretty pow­er­ful. I’ve got an in­ter­est in Holo­caust his­tory af­ter meet­ing a cou­ple of Holo­caust sur­vivors. It’s important that the stu­dents don’t just go on these trips just to go on a trip. That they go on these trips with a pur­pose,” said the teacher.

Learn­ing and liv­ing an important piece of his­tory can only be a boon to their over­all feel­ing sur­round­ing the trip.

At the end of the tour, the group vis­ited the AuschwitzhBirke­nau con­cen­tra­tion camp in Poland. It’s es­ti­mated 1.1 mil­lion Jews met their deaths at the camps.

For stu­dents and teach­ers, vis­it­ing the place where so many atroc­i­ties took place can be emo­tional.

Stu­dents like Car­bon­ear’s Cher­ish Grif­fin and New Per­li­can’s Trevor Piercey looked for­ward to ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the much talked about site.

“When you get there, it’s ghostly and it’s haunt­ing,” said Grif­fin. “You feel like some­thing is on you. It’s so much to take in. Even if it’s just a row of build­ings, just know­ing that so much had hap­pened there. It was crazy.

“I re­mem­ber when I left the camp … I felt up­lifted. I felt like I could breathe again.”

For Piercey, the weather above Auschwitz never quite matched up with the rest of the area.

There was a dif­fer­ent sense when you walked through the crum­bling camp.

“Even the weather around there. The wind could be a lit­tle bit warm, but the air around you al­ways felt chilly,” he said. “If there was a place in the world where there would be ghosts, it’d be Auschwitz.”

The trip

Stu­dents vis­ited more than a dozen his­tor­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant lo­cales in Ger­many, Poland and Cze­choslo­vakia over the course of 10 days. This in­cluded a walk­ing tour of Ber­lin, in­clud­ing stops at the Ber­lin Wall and the Jewish Mu­seum.

The tour con­tin­ued to Prague where the stu­dents were af­forded the op­por­tu­nity to take a tour through Jose­fov. For cen­turies, Jose­fov was used as a liv­ing space for the jewish peo­ple prior to their purg­ing un­der Nazi oc­cu­pa­tion in the Second World War.

From that point, there were stops at con­cen­tra­tion camps in Terezin, Auschwitz and Birke­nau be­fore con­clud­ing the trip in Karkow, Poland with a visit to the fac­tory of Oskar Schindler.

See­ing it first hand

Both Grif­fin and Piercey stud­ied his­tory dur­ing their time at Car­bon­ear Col­le­giate. They’re set to grad­u­ate in June.

They’ve read about the places they vis­ited and imag­ined what it’d be like to be there.

But, it was some­thing else to live it for a cou­ple of days. See­ing the ar­chi­tec­ture, liv­ing the cul­ture and eat­ing the food are in­te­gral parts to any Ed­u­ca­tion First (EF) tour.

“I don’t think you’d take as much from the trip if you didn’t take his­tory or re­li­gion,” said Piercey. “I’d find it hard to go over all of the top­ics we did this year and not find some­thing we didn’t ex­pe­ri­ence over there.”

“That’s why you take the world his­tory and the world re­li­gion and the pur­pose of learn­ing about all of this stuff,” added Grif­fin. “Not even if you travel, but when you meet some­one from a dif­fer­ent coun­try or you ex­pe­ri­ence a dif­fer­ent cul­ture, you can un­der­stand the dif­fer­ences and you can un­der­stand why it is they do these things.”

McDon­ald’s is ev­ery­where. With 35,000 restau­rants world­wide — 1,939 of them be­tween the three coun­tries they vis­ited — there’s am­ple op­por­tu­nity for stu­dents to get a Big Mac if they want one.

One prob­lem for the por­tion of the Car­bon­ear crowd that fan­cied a pair of Cana­dian all-beef pat­ties with Big Mac sauce, how­ever. Jarvis was a stick­ler when it came to where they ate.

“You can get your McDon­ald’s any­where. We tried to stay clear of the Mc­Don­alds and try some of that lo­cal cui­sine,” said Jarvis.

“(Jarvis) wouldn’t let us eat it,” said Piercey.

The wind could be a lit­tle bit warm, but the air around you al­ways felt chilly. If there was a place in the world where there would be ghosts, it’d be Auschwitz. Trevor Piercey

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

This year’s Car­boe­nar Col­le­giate con­tin­gent that travelled to Europe traced the steps of the Holo­caust.

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