Our third day in Poland we had the opportunity to visit Stuthoff Concentration Camp. Of course we learned about concentration camps in school and we have read books on the subject. You think you know, but there is no experience so powerful as visiting a place where more than 85,000 people were murdered. The camp is in a very secluded wooded area about an hour away from Gdansk and was completed in 1939. It was the first camp built outside of German borders and was the last camp to be liberated after the war was over. It is too much to write about all the details but the experience was very powerful. Seeing the gas chamber, crematorium and the barracks…it was all so overwhelming. The students were completely silent as we followed the guide through the two-hour tour and heard the history of the camp. The treatment of the prisoners was absolutely brutal and their living conditions were horrifying. It was a very heavy experience but we were glad to have the opportunity to pay tribute to all of the people who lost their lives in the camp.
For the rest of our time in Poland we did a lot of wandering, eating pierogies and enjoying the wonderful weather and beauty of Gdansk. We rode a ferris wheel that would remind you of the London Eye, we met friends for tea, we did some shopping, watched bungee jumpers and did some Facetime.
We relaxed more in this port and I don't know if it was because we were exhausted or because the markets and romantic cobblestone streets just make you feel more relaxed. Our final day we spent the morning with one of our many favorite Resident Directors, Margaret. Our last activity of the day was to watch some of our SAS students, staff and faculty run in the Solidarity Marathon. It was such a cool experience to stand at the finish line and cheer for them at the end of their long run. For some it was their first marathon. What a great accomplishment. Of course, I was eating ice cream while I watched them run. HA!
Now we are back on the ship and getting ready to leave our last port. Finals, Acting I showcase, anniversary parties, games with our favorite shipboard kids, cookie parties….it all happens now! Oh, and teaching….we are teaching in there somewhere too.