Molly: Overall, this trip was a mixture of feelings. There was the good feeling you got when cleaning the cemetery and the feelings of accomplishment and pride for what we were doing and how we were helping to carry out this service and keep the memories of the people alive. On the flip side of those feelings was the sadness that I felt while we were touring the cities and hearing all the stories about the cruelty and seeing all the gas chambers and standing rooms and all the ways they tortured people and broke their spirits.
Justine: Every single thing we did made this trip, hands down, the most valuable experience of my life. Looking back on it, I learned so much about who I am. It got me out of my small Albion, sorority, finals, and homework bubble and it challenged me. It challenged me physically and mentally.
Victoria: I have seen that the human capacity and ability for evil is endless. I have seen that in the cemetery where graves have been destroyed and robbed. In “Night” and “Neighbors.” In Auschwitz, where I saw the mounds of hair, glasses, pots, pans, and suitcases that were stolen from the prisoners. The torturing rooms, suffocation rooms, and the gas chambers. The human capacity for evil is endless and it is beyond me. I also witnessed the human capacity for good. That too is endless. Our group doing our very best job to clean up the cemetery in Wroclaw is proof of that. That 20 college students (our age groups is usually wired as self-centered) could work so hard, from different backgrounds and religions. In the Schindler factory where one man made the choice to do the right thing.
Jesse: Working to help bring back some humanity to the cemetery is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. Working alongside people of different nationality, culture, and religion. . . . I was so impressed with what we accomplished. It showed me that being different works to our advantage, though maybe that isn’t the right word. It shows that what Hitler was trying to do with the Holocaust was really stupid and pointless. There is no such thing as a superior race.
Deena: I feel the service component is a very important part of the trip because we are preserving the memory of the Jewish people and defeating the evil of Hitler and his followers who wanted the Jews and their memory to be permanently erased. Assisting the small Jewish community remaining in Poland is a wonderful undertaking, and demonstrates a commitment to a positive future for all people. I hope that people will continue to help out at the Jewish Cemetery and hope that the cemetery will be fully restored in the future. It is a symbol that will keep the memory of Jewish people alive, it is a reminder of a wonderful civilization that was eradicated because of prejudice and hatred, and it is a reminder that our destiny as human beings is truly linked together.
Tsiporah: Going home, I am taking a lot of prayers with me. I pray for the Jewish people . . . living and not; for human people . . . living or not; for the people in the world who still experience violence and cruelty; and for [the cemetery caretakers], that they always find pride from their work, that their lives be blessed for the blessed work that they are doing, and that they will never lose their desire for goodness and service. Lastly I pray that all people know what it is to love and be loved, to give it and to receive it. I pray that people open their hearts and open their minds.