With the Witt in Poland field study drawn to a close, I could not be more thankful to have participated in such a wonderful opportunity.
From an academic standpoint, there was so much to learn from the trip. We learned about the conditions that led to the Holocaust, and examined whether the motivations behind the Holocaust were based on economic motivations or antisemitic attitudes. We examined the evolution of political narratives in Poland, and how a country could maintain a national identity despite that country having long periods of occupation or control from foreign powers. We studied the history of a variety of cultural and religious groups throughout the country, and how each of their histories intertwine with the overall history and narrative of the country. We studied the way that Poland is seen from other parts of the world, and whether that affects that way that Poles see themselves. Oftentimes we examined in what ways the politics of Poland were similar to and different from the politics of the United States. We met multiple professors, who each contributed to these topics with added expertise allowing us to understand what we were learning from a better viewpoint. There was so much to learn, even spending nearly a month in Poland makes one feel like they’ve only just started understanding the size of any of these topics. The trip easily leads one to further study.
However, the trip was also enjoyable as a life experience even outside of an academic context. We had the opportunity to meet so many people who were kind and welcoming of us into their country. We had time to enjoy amazing, beautiful places, from enormous cities to national parks to sunny beaches. We got to try many new foods, not only trying out food unique to Poland but also discovering the similarities and differences between similar foods in the United States and Poland. We got incredibly close to a group of 11 people, helping each other through the inevitable confusion of managing in a completely unfamiliar environment.
The trip was worthwhile in nearly all aspects, and I’m very glad to have participated.