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  • Although the photo above wasn't taken on the last day of our journey together, I chose it because it represents how we left this trip: changed, enlightened, awed, and mystified.

    At the beginning of the semester back in January, it was incredibly hard to imagine what this trip together would be like. It felt so far away, like an eternity. But as the semester flew by, it crept up on us faster than any us of expected.

    Would it be worth it? Would it be as amazing as we'd envisioned in our minds? Would we all get along? Would we love every second? Would we break down emotionally?

    All of these questions and concerns were answered and put to rest as soon as we arrived in Berlin. No matter what happened, no matter what we faced, we were in it together (as corny as that sounds). I grew closer to my classmates than I had ever expected and it was all thanks to this amazing trip through time and through memory.

    As I thought about what to write for my final journal entry, I thought back to the thousands of words we had read during the semester and on the trip. One quotation came to mind, one that I found while researching for my presentation on Krakow. Albert Einstein states, "Those who have the privilege to know have the duty to act."*

    Everything about his statement is perfectly representative of what this whole class and trip meant. Studying Holocaust Memory means that we are recognizing our responsibility as members of this universe, we are learning about the tragedies that occurred and that we are going to the places to bear witness to them. Then after all that, we are sharing all that we learned with as many people as possible so that they can learn too and hopefully spread the knowledge to as many people as possible.

    It is only through communication that knowledge can spread. Knowledge is power and maybe, just maybe, we will soon live in a world where horrific things like mass murder and genocide don’t exist. Now I can’t guarantee that, but I do know one thing: the more people that are educated and know the facts, the more likely they’ll stand up against something they know to be wrong.

    I would LOVE to live in a world where everyone stood up for what they believed in and protested what they didn’t, and I know that spreading knowledge is the first step towards making that world a reality.

    I am so, so, so, so, so grateful that I was able to a part of this experience and be able to learn about these horrible, cruel things that fascinate me so much (as awful as that sounds). I know that we could have spent so much more time studying and experiencing and learning but I am satisfied with the time we had and all that we accomplished. It was an incredible semester and an even more extraordinary three weeks. It is a time in my life that I will never forget.

    As Elie Wiesel says, “The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.”** By taking the time to study, learn, reflect and visit, we are the furthest from indifferent one could ever be and because of that, I am so proud.

    *Albert Einstein
    **Elie Wiesel

    Photo Credit: Dylan Meyer
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