Past is Present: A Year Later

Reflections on a Journey

Several people who traveled to Poland last year for the 70th anniversary commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz shared their reflections of that event with the Institute. Here are their responses to the impact the journey had on them.

Jeannie Woods
January 27, 2016

As the first anniversary of my life-changing trip to Poland is upon me, I take time to reflect on the impact that trip has made on me both personally and professionally.  I have learned so much from my experiences as a teacher in USC Shoah Foundation’s and Discovery Education’s Auschwitz: The Past is Present program.

Ruth Hernandez
January 26, 2016
In January 2015, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Poland with other students, as a junior intern, for USC Shoah Foundation’s and Discovery Education’s Auschwitz: Past is Present program, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
Keith Stringfellow
January 26, 2016

In January 2015, I traveled to Poland for the Auschwitz: Past is Present professional development program, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau. This entire experience, was and continues to be a life changing event for me on every level personally, professionally, and academically.

Rob Kuznia
January 26, 2016

A person doesn’t visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland and come away unchanged, and I was no exception.

The empty barracks, the barbed-wire fencing, the solemn exhibits, the telltale chimneys – all these vestiges left a strong impression. But what struck me most was the sheer vastness of the sprawling memorial to history’s most notorious death camp.

Walking through Birkenau with my tour group, I gaped at the emptiness stretching for a mile in every direction – nothing but the crumbling remains of buildings half-buried in snow.

Charlotte Masters
January 25, 2016
In January 2015, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Poland with other students from across the country for USC Shoah Foundation’s and Discovery Education’s Auschwitz: Past is Present program. We toured various sites in Warsaw and Krakow, Poland, with teachers and our friend Paula Lebovics, a survivor of the Holocaust. Each point in the trip was remarkable and extremely inspiring. However, the visit to the Auschwitz-Birkeanu Memorial Museum impacted me the most.