By Khadija Hasne ’16
Hundreds of educators applied, but only 30 were chosen, to go to Oswlecom Poland on a grant this year. The trip to Poland served as a gathering ground for educators to meet and discuss Genocide studies. Ms. Liz Bommarito, English teacher, was among the lucky 30 selected to partake in the trip.
The trip was held from January 20 to January 28. The Shoah Foundation and Discovery Education have been organizing and planning the Poland trip for many years. The Poland trip’s main focus is to bring educators from all over the world to Poland in an effort to better their teaching strategies. Each day Ms. Bommarito went to new places such as location’s with historical significant, museums and the Holocaust death camp.
“The whole tone of the trip changed once we visited the death camp,” Ms. Bommarito said. “When we walked in there it was very emotional and some of the educators were holding on to one another for support.”
Among the educators were also nine students ages 10-15 who joined the trip so that the educators could present their activity’s to the students, get their feedback on what they liked and disliked about the lessons, and their opinions on how genocide could be introduced into the classroom. The main theme of the trip was about the Holocaust and genocide and friendly ways to try and introduce it to students.
“Genocide is still happening today, and many student’s do not know that which is why we have to find ways to bring attention to it and present it to the students,” said Ms. Bommarito
Ms. Bommarito stumbled across the trip when browsing the I-witness website. Upon seeing the contest to go to Poland she entered it. Ms. Bommarito is passionate about the Holocaust and has been teaching Holocaust studies for a few years.
“I always wanted to go, but never thought I would get the opportunity,” Ms. Bommarito said. “In the back of my mind it was always something I wanted to do so when the opportunity came up I went for it.”
Although the trip had been an emotional rollercoaster the more lighthearted part of the trip was the last day when there was a reception held with survivors of the Holocaust. Survivors from all over the world comes to Poland to share their experience of the Holocaust and to speak with the educators.
“I spent most of the trip crying but when I saw how positive and happy the survivors were it made my whole perception change,” Ms. Bommarito said. “It was an amazing experience that really put things into perspective for me. It is an experience I will always carry.”