Last week, Dr. Gates took his Global Literature II classes on a field trip to the Holocaust Exhibit at Rockland Community College. I was fortunate enough to come along for the trip and soak in the experience.
In class, we had just finished the short story , “None of Us Will Return”, and with the first-hand account of the Holocaust fresh in our minds, we headed off to RCC in school vans eager to learn more about what we had read.
When we first arrived, a woman spoke to us about different aspects of the Holocaust using videos of survivors describing their experiences. She stressed the importance of being educated about this topic because we will be the last generation to ever hear first-hand accounts of this terrorizing topic. Above all, becoming informed about such an event is our best weapon against allowing it to ever happen again. The women who presented was very good at helping us imagine how the people involved must have felt. She used modern-day examples of prejudice, and carried them to extremes to show what it might have been like to experience the brain-washing aspects of the Holocaust.
After her presentation, we listened to the testimony of a man who grew up in Germany during the time of the Holocaust. He was very young when it all began, and hid in a Catholic school as an adolescent. The most moving part of his story was when he talked about Liberation Day. He said, “If you ask anyone who lived in that part of the world at the time what their favorite day was, they would all say ‘Liberation Day’, whether they were Jewish or not. It was the happiest day any of us have ever seen”.
I absolutely loved this field trip. It was so cool to study literature from a part of history, then learn more about the time period and events– especially from people who had gone through it. I’m so grateful to Professor Gates for this opportunity, and encourage other students to take advantage of experiences like this. With the small class sizes at Nyack, professors will often invite students over to their house or take them on educational trips. So, if you ever have the opportunity to take part in these unique experiences, don’t miss out!