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Stephen Muss (Miami)

I had many expectations for our journey to Poland.

This trip was super impactful, meaningful and significant to me for a number of reasons. First, it affected me because it pushed me to try to see Poland in a new perspective. Though it didn’t really work, I don’t see Poland now as it was before and I understand it’s two different times in history. I don’t see Poland as black and white but as beautiful place with the most evil events you can imagine taking place inside. Even though we saw the worst things you can see, I eventually was able to process it and move on and even dance and sing with my friends. Also, it really made me feel connected to my grandparents and great grandparents because I got to see what they went through. It deeply saddened me but also made me grateful for what I have and to have a family AND even be alive! While I don’t think I would ever go back to Poland, I can still appreciate its beauty, but also the madness behind it.  

Auschwitz-Birkenau hit me the most. This place gave me SOOOOO MANY mixed emotions. However, it was very significant for me because I really learned to try to wrap my brain around it. Seeing and walking through Birkenau with the Israeli flag on my back really made me proud to be a Jew and made me feel a lot better because I know we were able to leave and walk out for the importance of telling the history of the Holocaust and the Jews.

After all this information and learning about the tragedy of the Holocaust, I had many expectations for our journey to Poland. I expected Poland to be so dark and gloomy. I hoped I could see the beauty in Poland, even though such a horrific event happened in this country.