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RS Trip to Kracow 2024

Posted on: March 27th 2024

Religious Studies News
Miss Stobbart, Head of RS

Thankful for the experience

At the beginning of March, the RS department and 48 students travelled to Krakow in Poland to experience religious culture of the country and the significant horrors that took place due to this. On the first day of our trip we arrived in Poland and went straight to the Wieliczka Salt mine. The mine is 327m deep and, after walking through it for nearly 2 hours, we had only managed to see 2% of the whole mine.

Student reflection: “The salt mine was incredible to see. After walking down what felt like thousands of stairs we walked through entire corridors of salt. Salt wall, floors, statues, carvings, chapels, everything salt. Even the chandeliers in the large chambers are made of salt. We saw how the miners and horses existed for long periods of time down the mine, and could see how important Christianity was based on the sheer number of chapels and religious carvings we saw. Then you enter what can only be described as a Cathedral under the ground. Unless you saw it, you wouldn’t believe it. It is still a working church today and its beautiful. The hours of work and care that must have gone into creating it was amaz-ing.”
Following this we had a traditional Jewish meal with traditional Jewish music at the Ariel restaurant.

Student reflection: “It was a very interesting and educational experience to see first-hand the Jewish culture with all the music. Also, to see traditional Jewish paintings and artwork in the restaurant helped you imagine what Jewish life was like in Krakow before the Nazis tried to destroy it. It’s wonderful that places like this restaurant still exist.”

On day two we took a trip to Auschwitz- Birkenau, the biggest concentration and death camp in Poland.

Student reflection: “Visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau was an interesting experience, and unlike what I had imagined it would be. The smallest parts of the tour were the ones which hit me the most: seeing the children's clothes and possessions in the 'Material Proof of Nazi Crimes' building, or seeing the drawings that they had made on the walls of their rooms and remembering a time not too long ago when my drawings were almost identical to that. The biggest thing about visiting the concentration camps was how the Holocaust no longer seemed a thing of the past, instead it was occurring at that very moment, particularly in places such as the darkness of the gas chamber. It Is an indescribable experience that I am thankful for.”

On our final day we took a walking tour of what had once been the ghetto area of Krakow, before heading to see Oskar Schindler’s factory, made famous by the film Schindler’s list. The factory is the building in which Jews worked, whilst Schindler protected the number he could from the Nazi’s final solution.

Student reflection: “Whilst all of the trip was great and thought provoking, my favourite part, was Oskar Schindler's Factory. It was very interactive, and wasn't just a boring museum. I felt like having seen where Jews lived, worked and died already, this museum brought together all of my thoughts and allowed me to see how things changed in Krakow, step-by-step, from the Nazi takeover all the way to the genocide of 6million Jews and all of the other. If any of my friends want to visit Poland in the future I will tell them they have to go to this museum.”

Whilst the Poland trip is never an easy one to sum up, it is fair to say that we had an amazing experience. We saw and thought about events way beyond what is possible in the classroom, and we did also have some fun together bowling and dinning out. Its always nice however to have the public recognise how lovely our students are, and the number of fellow travellers and tour guides who commented on our student’s behaviour and courtesy was just lovely. A Polish lady stopped Miss Stobbart after the flight from Stansted to Krakow and said “I have just spent 2 hours sat amongst your students. They are delightful! So polite, and have wonderful things to say about your school. I have had such an enjoyable flight. You should be proud.” After a tiring day there is nothing better to hear as a teacher than that.

Religious Studies News
Miss Stobbart, Head of RS

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