Embarking on a Holocaust Journey


Abby Ross, Contributing Writer

Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, and even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you-it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, and on your heart. You take things with you, and you leave things behind. However, there is one thing that stays with you forever- the indescribable experiences that cultivate new and powerful perspectives on life. In the past 3 years here at Buena Vista University I have traveled to 11 countries. Through these various opportunities, I have seen and experienced things that words cannot describe nor do justice. However, I pray that even with the challenge present, a spark of desire grows within you to step outside of your comfort zone and drives you to try and experience this world through traveling the way I have.  

On December 28th 2017, I embarked on a journey that I knew would change my life forever. I knew that this journey would be none like I have ever experienced before. Hence, causing feelings of anxiousness to overtake me more than I expected. Despite that fact, I overcame such feelings and, as a result, I learned more than one can imagine. The J-term Holocaust Studies trip was undoubtedly beyond powerful and has served as one of the most rewarding experiences that I have been blessed to experience. For 11 days, I traveled across Europe and Israel exploring various sights that held so much significance during the Holocaust and still hold significance today. In the cities of Warsaw, Lublin, Berlin, and Krakow, I got to see the remains of the death camps at Treblinka, Majdanek, and Auschwitz. In the Czech Republic, l visited Prague and Terezin. In Israel, I stayed in old Jerusalem, visited Yad Vashem, and saw the Dead Sea, Masada, and the Roman ruins at Caesarea. In all of these places, I was always remined of the preciousness of life. Although this trip was very emotional, I am beyond grateful that I got to experience it. The Holocaust was a time in which millions were persecuted and murdered. Countless innocent victims lost their lives in the most brutal ways. They were dehumanized, tortured and killed in ways that some can’t fathom. This trip opened up my eyes in ways that have changed me forever. Reading about the Holocaust is one thing, but to have the chance to go to the places where much of the destruction was done is an entirely different experience. This trip reminded me to live my life in such a way that breeds hope and advocates for social justice for all people. I believe that if more people choose to live their life fighting for the rights and justice of others, history will fail to repeat itself. If we choose to act, if we choose to challenge ourselves, if we choose to get uncomfortable, we can then begin to live fully. I dare you to love with everything you have, and to take advantage of every opportunity that Buena Vista has to offer. Once you do that, you will grow and inspire others in ways that some only get the chance to dream of.