Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Yay me!

So I'm going to toot my own horn a little- I got accepted to be a University Writing Fellow. Basically I get assigned to a classroom and work with students on their papers. It's an ideal job for an English major. It looks great on a resume and it will be a great experience to help students in the writing process and (hopefully) help them enjoy writing. Because writing is fun! I am very, very excited. (Just ask my mom- I called her and was speaking about 20 mph out of sheer joy and excitement!)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Washington D.C.

I went to DC at the end of October and had a wonderful experience. I saw everything that I wanted to and came away with a renewed knowledge of how great America is and how inspired its founding was. I'm so grateful to my amazing parents who let me go. I have so much I want to say, but there are two things that I think will always stick with me about my trip, and both come from the American Holocaust Memorial Museum. I have always had a great interest in World War II and especially in the Holocaust. Going through the museum I was struck with the absurdity of the whole thing. How could one man inspire and invoke the hatred of thousands to the point of massacring millions of Jews? It's incomprehensible to me.

My first true insight came when I read the exhibit on Anne Frank. They had an excerpt from her diary that I want to share with you:
July 15, 1944 (there are only two more entries after this one):

"Anyone who claims that old people have a more difficult time in the Annexe doesn't realized that the problems have a far greater impact on us. We're much too young to deal with these problems, but they keep thrusting themselves on us until, we're forced to think up a solution, though most of the time our solutions crumble when faced with the facts. It's difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It's a wonder I haven't abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.
It's utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death. I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too will end, that peace and tranquility will return once more. In the meantime, I must hold to my ideals. Perhaps the day will come when I'll be able to realize them!"

What optimism and faith from such a young girl. In the face of the such an awful thing, she never lost faith in mankind or hope in a brighter future. I couldn't help but stand there with tears streaming down my face, in awe of this girl and mourn the loss of her potential and aspirations.

The other thing that hit me with such a great force is a room full of shoes. When new prisoners would come into the camps the guards would strip them of all belongings including their shoes. They would keep the shoes and use them for other things and then send the prisoners into the gas chambers. There was a poem posted above the shoes that broke my heart and truly explained the dismissal of human life.

"We are the shoes, we are the last witnesses.
We are shoes from grandchildren and grandfathers
From Prague, Paris, and Amsterdam,
And because we are only made of fabric and leather
And not of blood and flesh, each one of us avoided the hellfire."

-Moses Schulstien, Yiddish Poet

A line from the musical AIDA kept running through my mind as I continued through the museum- "That a life of great potential, is dismissed inconsequential."

Sorry to depress you, but I wanted to share some of my insights and some of what I took away from my fabulous trip. Happy posts will come- I promise.