We had a wonderful dinner with the students at a traditional Polish restaurant last night. Alumni and friends sat opposite students along long wooden tables and shared experiences and fun. We found out about each other as we tried and shared traditional Polish food. Matt, one of the students who graduated this year, is bilingual and knows about all things Polish due to his family background. He helped everyone choose appetizers, drinks, soups, and main courses. No fear of swine flu here—all shared everything but the drinks! What a fun time.
Today was another somber, yet hopeful day as we visited Ozarow where Miriam was separated from her family forever. We visited the cemetery where those good-byes would forever change lives. Miriam survived as a hidden child, but the rest of her family did not. Even though this visit in itself was intense, incredibly, our tour guide managed to find an 82-year-old Polish man in this town who had survived the Holocaust to come and talk to us at the cemetery. He told of some of the incredible things he had seen and lived through as a small boy during the German occupation of this town. Most of the people here were sent to death camps, but this gentleman survived.
Back in Warsaw, tonight was our last dinner together. Actually three of us have already departed, but the rest gathered at another incredible restaurant. Two children who survived the Holocaust joined us. These two ladies have both lived in Warsaw for over 50 years and shared their stories with several of the Jewish members of our group. The rest of us hope to hear their stories through those who dined closest to them at the table.
We are all weary, but will hate to say good-bye tomorrow. It has been an incredible 8 days of history, sight-seeing, making friends, learning another language, and being exposed to another culture. That said, I will be happy to return to Albion tomorrow.