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Marian University Students Participate in Study Abroad Experience

During the 2022 spring term, Associate Professor of Philosophy Dr. David Leichter, and Associate Professor of History Dr. Matthew Szromba cotaught a topic that both passionately agree is vitally important. They taught History and Memory of the Holocaust, an interdisciplinary course that examined the holocaust through two disciplines: history and philosophy.

Students learned about the historical events of the Holocaust while also considering how dehumanization led to catastrophe and how the memory of this tragedy is often distorted or forgotten.

The learning experience culminated with a two-week trip to Poland. Students spent nearly every day learning about the Holocaust through guided walking tours, museum visits, and trips to memorial sites. Taking the lessons from the classroom and traveling to visit the sites where the memory of the Holocaust continues to live is merely one goal of this experience.

According to Dr. Szromba, “Studying abroad is transformative. Students often return more broad-minded, better problem solvers, more skilled learners, and more mature individuals. Studying abroad can be a very humbling, yet rewarding, experience.”

Nemiah Whitston, a senior in the Expressive Therapy & Arts Program, recalls visiting Majdanek Concentration Camp in Lublin, and walking through the main entrance known as the “Gates of Hell.” She admits this experience was emotionally intense and one that is difficult to articulate in words.

“With our arms around each other, we stood together in silence and remembered the innocent victims  of hatred, bigotry, and injustice,” she shared. Dr. Leichter hopes students are inspired to think beyond what they learned in class and experienced in Poland.

He cautioned students not to let monuments and memorials do the work of remembering. He encouraged them to consider how their memory of the Holocaust, and this trip, might motivate them to act against injustice in the world.