The days before I left for Poland were some of the busiest and nerve-wrecking days for me. I had to take multiple finals and pack up my whole room in last minute. In fact, I was done with everything an hour before I had to go to the airport. I had no time to sit down and think about my upcoming travels until I was in the car with Lexie, her dad, Kat, and Mackenzie. Then it became surreal to me I was going to Poland.

Before my visit to there, I was both excited and apprehensive. I was excited about the travels, seeing the sites, and the history we read about in the course. However, as a Muslim woman, I was also very much aware of what I could encounter in my travels. I am a US citizen and I have my passport; nevertheless, there was still the fear of something could happen. Thankfully nothing major occurred. However, when I was leaving Warsaw, the TSA there gave me a “special” pat down in front of everyone. It made me feel violated and sad that people have to be that scared of Muslims. In that moment, I felt compelled to say “I mean you no harm” but somehow I kept my mouth shut and let it happen.

Going into this course, I was on the quest of learning more about the Holocaust. I felt like it is part of history that was not discussed enough in high school. I wanted to understand what happened exactly and how the world just stood by and watched as people were being slaughtered. I hoped taking this course and visiting some Holocaust sites will give me the answers I was seeking; however I have more questions than I ever did before. After the trip, I learned so much more about the Holocaust as well as what people are capable of and will do to each other when there are differences.

I cannot help but be aware of what is happening in the world today. Decades after the Holocaust, there are hatred, antisemitism and genocide present everywhere. I feel heartbroken knowing we have not learned from history and continue to mistreat one another. My journey to Poland encouraged me to find ways to help fight against injustice, prejudice, and hatred wherever and whenever they occur.

This trip also helped me grow as a person, and it gave me the tools I needed to develop a new perspective on life. I am more open-minded than ever, and I continue to try my utmost best not to judge people no matter how different they are from me. Everyday, I struggle not to lose faith in humanity. I read and watch the news constantly, and I always tear up at the violence that is happening. Sometimes it gets overwhelming and I am more than afraid history will be repeated. However, as long as there are trips like this we will be reminded not to forget and have a chance to make sure that does not happen.


Ifrah A.