Twelve William Woods University students are in Europe visiting the sites of the Holocaust during their spring break, as part of WWU’s unique Woods Around the World program in global studies.
They are accompanied by the Rev. Travis Tamerius, WWU chaplain; Shawn Hull, associate professor of history, and Michelle Kemp, director of career services and student success.
William Woods received a grant from the Oreon E. Scott Foundation to take students overseas to study the Cold War era in Europe and deepen their understanding of the Holocaust by visiting many of the still-existing sites.
Tamerius prepared the students for the journey by offering the course “Woods Around the World: History of the Holocaust” this semester to students interested in exploring the connection between Fulton’s local history and the larger history of the 20th century.
“Before traveling to Eastern Europe, students completed a course in social responsibility, gaining leadership skills in combating violence and promoting peace,” said Tamerius.
During the nine-day trip, students are touring some of Eastern Europe’s historical landmarks, including the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, the Warsaw Ghetto and Gestapo headquarters in Warsaw, the Wawel Cathedral in Krakow and Josefov, the Jewish Quarter in Prague.
As part of the curriculum, Woods Around the World students are writing a travel blog documenting their learning before, during and after the trip. The blog can be accessed at http://watw2010.wordpress.com.
Before they left, Emily Edens of Ozark, Mo., said, “I’m definitely most excited for Prague. Everything I’ve read and seen about it shows how beautiful the city is. I’m hoping to learn more in-depth issues surrounding the Holocaust from a different country’s perspective. I’m also hoping to apply this information to the graduate programs I’ve been looking at in global studies. I think Woods Around the World is incredibly unique. I could study abroad anywhere, but this trip is truly an experience that I could only get here.”
Courtney Wieberg of Rush Hill, Mo., commented, “I am most excited about going to Germany, the homeland of my ancestors, and also to be able to explore three new countries and their culture. I want to gain a better understanding and knowledge about the Holocaust. I will definitely walk away not taking life for granted.”
Tamerius believes the course and the trip combined will enable students to think about the legacy of violence and how thinking can be changed to foster better relations. The course aims to challenge students to break cycles of violence by promoting pathways to peace and reconciliation.
In past years, William Woods students enrolled in the Woods Around the World program have explored the cultures of Kenya and Peru. Most recently they toured the American South, following the civil rights trail to further understand the civil rights movement.
Woods Around the World is a unique program that takes students beyond the classroom and allows them to experience another culture. By studying the culture first-hand, they strengthen their understanding of globalization while broadening their education in preparation for their future careers.
William Woods University students and faculty in Warsaw, Poland, during their tour of Holocaust sites.