Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Getting ready

Even though it's a week before we leave the country, I've already entered the jitters zone. I've started thinking about making sure the stove is off and the coffee pot is unplugged. Oh, and don't forget the passport.
Today I've been trying out my video camera to make sure it will do what I need for the blog and I'd say it's good. I spent an hour on the phone today with AT&T making sure my phone situation is okay. Yesterday I took my power adapter stuff to Radio Shack and the guy there assured me that I'm good to go. I also went out to school to pick up some stuff that could be useful for the trip: a lesson that I created that I use in class that I could share with people, a few books, and a couple of DVDs that people may not have seen, Shoah and Sophie Scholl. Conspiracy, the movie about the Wannsee Conference would be a good one for everyone to have seen, since we are going to the mansion where that happened. My copy is on tape, though. We are supposed to pack light, though.

The folks running the trip and the people going have been very helpful. Brad Sims, who teaches at Tri-Valley High School in Ohio put together a list of stuff to bring including gallon size zip lock bags to put extra breakfast in for lunch (we get two meals a day) and washcloths. There's a more formal list, of course, from Elaine Culbertson, the program director.

Tomorrow I'm going down to Grant County to visit my mom and sister and that leaves Thursday and Friday morning to get ready to go.

I think I'm gonna be alright.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Classroom rules

I have to remind posters to submit your first name, last name, age, and city, state, and country at the end of any posts you make. Look in the upper left hand corner of this blog where I posted the guidelines at the beginning. Check rule two, too.

It's a little bit like classroom rules isn't it?

I hope the person who did not follow the classroom rules, very early in the morning when he or she should have been sleeping anyway, would resubmit those comments so I can reply. You understand, don't you, what would happen to the class if I failed to enforce my own guidelines on the fourth day of class? Chaos, utter chaos.

Also, I added to the blog a "commercial" produced by the folks at Raise Hope for Congo.org, mentioned in Nicholas Kristof's column in the New York Times today. Kristof spoke a few months ago at St. Mary's College about the deplorable conditions women face generally in the developing world, which he describes in the book Half the Sky. The column is about our personal connection to the "barbaric" war in Congo.

I'm a Mac ... and I've Got a Dirty Secret

Friday, June 25, 2010

Prologue 4

Nothing analogous, as a cause or as an effect, can ever diminish German responsibility for the Holocaust. Six million. Jews.

The "solutions" to the "Jewish question" that preceded the final solution were not confined to Germany or the 20th century or Europe, however.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Belfer Conference teacher workshop teaches teachers that only the death factories were original to the German government. In essence, everything else the Germans and their collaborators did to the Jews had been done before. For the same "reasons."

As "Never Again" is our creed, we must examine the causes that are not exclusive to the Germans. Bernard Malamud's, The Fixer, is a Holocaust allegory set in a Czarist Russia looking for scapegoats prior to the Revolution. Hotel Rwanda reminds us that genocide happened on our watch, not in some foggy past. More people died last month in Darfur than in any other month since U.N. peacekeepers arrived in 2008.

The causes of genocide remain.

One area of particular interest for me is the power of naming. For example, what effect did it have on this posting that I failed to modify the word "Germany" with the word "Nazi"? Or that I chose to use the word "Germans" instead of the word "Nazi"? Try replacing "German" with "Nazi" and "Germany" with "Nazi Germany." Do you perceive a difference?

I'd like to recommend a couple of articles that you can reach on the world wide web. The first is "The Power of Naming" by Rabbi Andrew Davids at myjewishlearning.com and the second is "Native Americans and the Power of Naming," by Elmhurst College President S. Alan Ray at public.elmhurst.edu.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Prologue 3

Through the efforts of Valerie Berezner, public relations director at the Jewish Federation of St. Joseph Valley, this blog will soon be linked at the Federation website. Also, Tony Krabill, the afternoon host of All Things Considered at WVPE, added a mention of my trip and a link at the station's Facebook page. Thank you Valerie and thank you Tony.

Anthony Hunt, the station manager at WVPE, told me a couple weeks back that what counts most about this trip is what I do with the experience, how I use the information I receive. Well said.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Prologue 2

June 22, 2010

Twenty-six educators from around the United States assemble at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. July 5, for the Holocaust and Jewish Resistance Teachers Program.

From Washington we fly to Tel Aviv and then stay in Jerusalem until we fly to Berlin, July 11. From Berlin we travel on July 14 to Poland: Warsaw, Lublin, Zamocs, Krakow, Lodz and back to Warsaw before returning to the United States July 24.

We will visit Yad Vashem, "the world center for documentation, research, education and commemoration of the Holocaust" established in Israel in 1953; the Wannsee Conference villa in suburban Berlin where plans for the "final solution" were finalized in a 90 minute luncheon meeting of top German officials in January 1942; the Warsaw Ghetto area; Auschwitz; the Schindler factory; Treblinka; and sacred sites in Warsaw, Krakow, Kielce, and Lodz; and meet with Israeli, German, and Polish teachers.

The American teachers on the trip come from Louisiana, Georgia, Texas, Arizona, Minnesota, Connecticut, Idaho, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Ohio, Oregon, North Carolina, and Indiana. The first goal of the program is "to advance education in U.S. secondary schools about the Holocaust and Jewish Resistance."

Monday, June 21, 2010