Students from CSUN and Loyola Marymount University will travel to Poland to learn about the Holocaust.
CSUN Associate Professor of English Dr. Dorothy Clark along with her colleague Associate Professor of English and Director of Jewish Studies at LMU, Dr. Holli Levitsky, taught the English 495 Holocaust and American Culture class at CSUN and both will be traveling with the students.
“It’s a trip that’s intended to be a Holocaust education trip as well as a trip that is meant to reach out to Polish universities too,” Clark said.
During the spring semester, students met with survivors to get a recount of their experience during the Holocaust and the CSUN students used video conferencing to work in groups with students from LMU, Clark said.
“We would meet once a week on the screen and our students would meet via Skype on their computers as well as in person,” Clark said.
Once in Poland, they will be traveling by buses and trains to landmarks in Poland such as Krakow and Lodz.
“We’re going to be living in particular sites, in places that are related to their (survivors) experience,” Clark said.
The trip to Poland with students started out as an idea created by Clark and Levitsky.
“This was something that we talked about back in 2007 about the possibility of bringing students to Poland and so it has been developing over a period of time,” Clark said.
Clark said this trip to Poland is the first of it’s kind to come from the English and Jewish department.
“We hope this will be the beginning of this kind of trip for the future,” Clark said.
Cherie Coles, 26, English major, said the trip will not only allow her to visit the location but it will give her “more of an in person understanding” of what the class has taught her.
“We’ve read a lot of text and seen documentaries but actually being there where it actually happened is going to be a different type of experience,” Coles said.
Students will also make a stop in a small village outside the city of Lodz, Clark said.
“We will be part of a ceremony to commemorate the banished Jewish community of that village with a memorial plaque,” Clark said. “This is all part of a sense of wanting to develop ties through healing, communication and build a new world.”
Krystal Brooks, 20, history major, shares the same sentiment as Coles.
“I’ve never been to Europe before so it will be an amazing experience and the class made me just want to do it even more,” Brooks said. “It’s always great to experience different cultures, different people and different customs.”
Clark said she believes the students will gain insight on their journey around Poland.
“I have been there before and professor Levitsky has been there before,” Clark said. “I think for us to bring students there and the fact that we’re going to be engaging with university students in Poland that we’re going to be having so much contact with people who are interested in reaching out and creating connections that’s a very powerful thing.”
The trip to Poland will allow the students to carry on the message when there are no survivors left, Clark said.
“We’re kind of seeing ourselves as witnesses because the survivors are dying,” Clark said. “And consequently we need to find a way to incorporate the intensity and power of the experience of talking to a holocaust survivor.”
View Memories Guide students through Poland in a larger map