A Trip through History


Alyssa Donnelly, Assistant Arts & Life Editor

Every academic school year, Buena Vista University has an Interim during the month of January. It’s a two-to-three-week term when BVU students often take a course or travel. Students decide if they wish to spend their Interim off-campus on an educational trip or on-campus in an intensive class.

Every four years, BVU gives students the opportunity to be part of what’s become known as “The Holocaust Trip.” Next January, in 2018, students again have the opportunity to explore Berlin, Prague, Terezin, Krakow, Auschwitz, Warsaw, Treblinka, and Israel as part of an educational travel experience focused on the Holocaust. On the trip, students experience different historical sites and artifacts from the Holocaust including concentration camps, gas chambers, homes that were destroyed, memorials, and graves or possessions from those killed during the Holocaust.

The faculty leaders of the trip include Dr. Dixee Bartholomew-Feis, Professor of History and Dean of the School of Social Science, Philosophy and Religion; and Dr. Peter Steinfeld, Professor of Philosophy and Religion, and Associate Dean of the Faculty. There will be a prep-course required prior to the trip that will take place in the fall semester.

Steinfeld shares important information for the students interested in the trip.

“The prep-course then is to prepare the students who are going on the trip but also to make them resident experts at the places we’re going to visit. So they will take a topic and become the experts on that topic. It becomes a way there’s a bit of investment ahead of time with some of the academic components or understanding learning something about the history or importance or particular site we are going to be visiting,” Steinfeld said.

Bartholomew-Feis notes that the purpose of this trip really is to gain an education about the Holocaust.

“These countries are beautiful in their own right. They have some beautiful old historic areas. But the trip is not geared for those kinds of things. I don’t know that a person would enjoy the trip very much if their were no meaning attached to it,” Bartholomew-Feis said.

The trip has had a large impact on not only faculty and students but an alumni who have gone on the trip in previous years. Tiffanie Drayton, who graduated in 2001 with majors in history and political science, went on the trip in 2000. 

“This was my first experience overseas so it was an amazing opportunity for me!” Drayton said. “Seeing firsthand the remains of the camps and ghettos in Poland and the Czech Republic was a surreal experience because even though you study and learn about history, it doesn’t seem real. The trip could be emotionally heavy at times, but being able to experience it with classmates and professors that you could talk to and ask questions of was invaluable.”
Students who wish to learn more about the 2018 January Interim Holocaust trip should contact Dr. Dixee Bartholomew-Feis at [email protected] or Dr. Peter Steinfeld at [email protected] .