Albion College's Holocaust Studies Program Service-Learning Project in Poland takes place every other year in May. Our next trip will be May 2017. Students, faculty, and staff members spend time in Poland working, learning, and visiting sites related to the Holocaust and Polish Jewry.
The group first goes to Wrocław, mostly doing hard physical work restoring a Jewish cemetery. In the evening, the group meets to discuss readings and their experiences.
They then travel to Kraków, where they explore Kazimierz, the city's historic Jewish quarter. The group visits Oskar Schindler's former factory at 4 Lipowa Street, where in 2001 Albion College students dedicated a large historical plaque which adorns the building. They visit other historically and culturally important Jewish sites in Kraków, as well.
Finally, the group makes an excursion to nearby Auschwitz-Birkenau.
During the spring semester, students going on the trip meet for a mandatory one-half-unit proseminar that covers the history of Poland, the Holocaust, Jews in Poland both before and after World War II, and the transformation of Poland since the fall of communism.
The aim of this project is to help the Jewish community of Wrocław to tell its story.
At its peak, this community numbered in the thousands; today only a handful remain. The restoration of a large Jewish cemetery connects us with people who have preceded us in time, and engages us in recognizing their place in the "community of memory." This project honors the place of a people who have mostly vanished from Wrocław and Poland in the wake of the Holocaust, and helps the remaining community to reclaim an important cultural and historical artifact. As an act of historical recovery, this project stands as an active rebuke of ethnic violence anywhere in the world.
Interested in learning more? Email to get your name on an interest list and receive notification of an upcoming information session.
The next HSSLP trip to Poland will be in May 2017 (estimated dates: May 6 - 18). We will leave for the airport immediately after commencement. The trip includes five days of service in a Jewish cemetery in Wrocław, followed by exploration of Kraków and a day trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau. For this next trip, we plan to add a couple days to go to Warsaw and visit the new Museum of the History of Polish Jews.
Full cost per student is currently estimated at $2,700. Please note that we will be able to issue scholarships (some need-based) that will significantly bring down this amount. We encourage students to also take initiative to fundraise. In the past, some students have received funding from churches and synagogues in exchange for giving a presentation after the trip.
Participation in the trip includes a 0.5 unit class during Spring Semester.
Check out the interview! Gordon Evans of WMUK radio in Kalamazoo interviewed trip participants Megan Connolly and Jocelyn McWhirter about their experience. The piece aired on May 19, 2011. Listen to the interview and read the article!
The video "Constructing a Community of Memory: Holocaust Studies at Albion College," featuring footage of the 2001 service-learning trip to Poland, explores the College's Holocaust Studies Program through interviews with students and faculty.
Reviews the history of genocide, the history of the Jewish communities in Poland, and the history of the Nazi extermination of Jews in Poland during the Second World War. Required for, and restricted to, students selected to participate in the spring Holocaust Studies Service-Learning Project in Poland. Offered in alternate years.
Jocelyn McWhirter, associate professor of religious studies, teaches this 0.5-credit interdisciplinary course.