It’s one thing to read about history; it’s quite another to see it in person. Participating in the Centropa’s Summer Academy in Berlin is giving me this very opportunity. In the past two and a half days, I’ve walked through neighborhoods that were once part of East Germany, seen stolpersteins, or brass bricks that commemorate Jewish victims of World War II, visited the site and seen what remains of the wall that divided East and West Germany. Reading stories, viewing films of survivors and those affected by the War, and walking, literally, in some of their footsteps, has touched me more profoundly that I ever expected.
Furthermore, sitting in a room full of more than 80 educators, ranging from elementary through high school, from around the world that have each come to learn about, discuss, and share only enhances this unique global experience. In spite of the language challenges, opinions, different teaching styles, and standards they are required to meet by each of their countries, they are all united in the quest to educate their students. I feel inspired by the openness, creativity, enthusiasm, and passion that these educators have demonstrated. The conversations and connections that have thus far taken place give hope – hope that future generations will learn from past mistakes, develop a deeper understanding, and find alternative ways to work through differences.