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Students Visit Cultural Sites in Poland and Slovakia

Students Visit Cultural Sites in Poland and Slovakia

Students Visit Cultural Sites in Poland and Slovakia

DAVE THOMPSON

Students visited the Special Olympics Dream Day Center in Slovakia.

Staff Writer

December 7, 2023

Katharine Ellis '26

Over Thanksgiving break, 11 students, accompanied by Mr. Keith Moon, instructor in English and History, and Ms. Carita Gardiner, instructor in English, traveled to Poland and Slovakia, where they visited four major cities, Auschwitz, and the Dream Day Center. 


The travelers began their visit in Warsaw, the capital of Poland, where they did some sightseeing, got to know their tour guide, Mr. Mateusz Tomaszczyk, and ate traditional Polish food. 


Highlights from Warsaw included tours of the Royal Castle, St. John’s Archcathedral, and the Warsaw Uprising Museum. At the museum, students learned about the German occupation of the city during WWII, Polish resistance, and the rebuilding that occurred after the war. 


After two days of sightseeing in Warsaw, the group made their way south to the cities of Czestochowa and Krakow. Here, they viewed the Black Madonna of Czestochowa, an icon of the Virgin Mary at the most popular shrine in Poland. 


They then visited the Old Town of Krakow, where they admired its medieval buildings and toured St. Mary’s Basilica and Wawel Cathedral. Oleh Shtunder ’25 said, “Krakow is my favorite city in all of Eastern Europe, because of its beautiful architecture. The group also got to eat delicious food that reminded me of my home country, Ukraine, which shares a common cuisine with Poland.” 


On their second day in Krakow, the group visited Auschwitz, the largest concentration camp operated by the Nazis during WWII. Students saw the gas chambers and walked through the largest cemetery in the world. Symphony Shi ’26 said, “This experience was by far the most impactful moment of the entire trip.” 


The following day, students traveled to the Wieliczka Salt Mine and walked through St. Kinga’s Chapel, the largest underground chapel ever built. Ms. Gardiner said, “The salt mines were one of my favorite things we saw. They are an engineering marvel. Since there was no electricity, oil lamps were used during the entirety of the building process, and horses were even brought 250 meters below the earth’s surface. In comparison, the engineering at Auschwitz was used to create a system of terror with the sole goal of killing as many people as possible. Seeing and thinking about these two engineering processes, for good and for evil, was a mind-boggling experience.” 


The closing days of the trip were spent in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. Students spent time with representatives of Special Olympics Slovakia during their visit to the Dream Day Center, which provides aid to Ukrainian families with children with mental disabilities. 


Students spent time at the day care playing with children and finding ways to communicate despite the language barrier. Shi ’26 said, “This opportunity taught me the importance of getting to know people you never imagined you could communicate with, even if you do not speak their language."

Katharine Ellis is a staff writer for The Record.

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Editor's Note: This article was recovered from The Record's online archive. There may be stylistic and visual errors that interrupt the reading experience, as well as missing photos. To read this article as it appeared in print, view our print archives.

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Editorials are written by members of The Record's Executive Board. They typically center on issues related to the school or student life on campus.

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