School vs. Travelling

First of all, I am a teacher and I love my job. I think teaching is rewarding, meaningful and plays a significant role in most of our lives. However… and this is a big however…I know that I learned a lot when I was in school but I can’t seem to remember many of the specifics. I guess I will sum it up as I am sure it was all important and it must have helped me overall.

What I definitely do remember is my first high school trip outside of North America. I went to Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Yes I had fun sightseeing, shopping, eating, and dancing but what really stands out is this one day. We went to Dachau concentration camp (no, not fun) and it is this day, this event, that is one of those travel moments that has been forever etched in my memory. I have never forgotten standing in the gas chamber looking at photos of the bodies laying on top of each other, in that very spot, where I was standing. Shocking, horrifying, unimaginable and that feeling has never left me. I could sit in school and read about the Holocaust, watch movies on it but to place my feet where it actually happened was life changing. This is what learning via travelling does. It is real.

So this year, one of my daughters is in Grade 9 and her school was taking a trip to what was known as Eastern Europe. When I saw that they would be visiting Auschwitz, I knew that she would have to go. I am sure when she looks back on Grade 9 many years from now she won’t remember the algebra she learned, the French verbs she could conjugate, the science experiments she did but she will remember walking down that path towards Auschwitz.

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