Since day one CSI has exceeded my expectations professionally and personnally. The organization of the event has been outstanding and, what is most important, the resources and experiences I am collecting will definitely impact my students.
Day one: meeting at the Vienna Diplomatic Academy made me feel like we were treated as ambassadors of the world. CENTROPA united different countries in a common mission: educate our students towards understanding, tolerance, respect for each other, validation of our individualities, human rights and universal principles leading to a common goal: peace. Holocaust studies lead to so many universal lessons that go beyond the history of Jews.
Anthony Ludwig presented an excellent lesson on Why Teach History. I like the way he starts since the very firts day of school, engaging his students of the study of history. I teach Spanish language, history and culture. Understanding history is essential for my students of Spanish literature to understand and analyze the works from authors from all periods from Medieval times to present. It is also important for my other levels of Spanish to understand the way Hispanic culture is shaped. The story of the Sephardim has been neglected from the curricula of the Spanish language and culture. My students will learn about the life of Spanish Jews who left Spain. They will reach their own conclusions in determining if they are Hispanic or not.
Anthony's passion in presenting his lesson was also an important factor for my interest in what he was saying. Passion for teaching translates sometimes into passion for learning. CENTROPA has given us the opportunity as teachers to be prepared on issues we may be passionate about universal topics that connect teachers interdisciplinarily and jumping borders.
The bus ride along the Ringtrasse Boulevard was incredible. I took lots of pictures of the buildings. I am planning to show those pictures to my students so they cam compare the architerture of Spain with that of Vienna. It called my special attention the Cathedral and its roof with tiles, nothing I have seen in Spain. It will be interesting that my students reseearch the periods in which these buildings were built so they can compare with Spain and the characteristics of Europe by that time.
Eating at the tavern was an excellent way to end a day full of surprises, warm welcoming, excellent food, and excellent people. I had the opportunity of meeting my colleagues and even take pictures. I could not believe it was just the first day.
DAY 2: Meeting with other teachers to present our biographies from CENTROPA was very enriching. Gaby (from Rumania) and I chose the same person, Guler Orgum. It was interesting to listen to the presentation of other teachers. How they all treat the same subject and apply to their classes in different countries.
The best experience I had was meeting Charlotte and Lilli, the elderly interviewees from Vienna. They both speak Spanish and were so excited to speak in Spanish I could feel the excitement and mine. I believe it brought good memories to their hearts. There was an immediate connection between them and my group ,Wendy and Lisa. They were laughing and talking and telling their stories like we were old friends. Their personalities and spirits inspire me. They have endured so much and they are so strong and beautiful. It is what I call beautiful souls, like in the book.Lilli got emotional and cried when she told us her story. However, she recovered immediately and kep joking with us. They both wanted to share with us the next day at the dinner. They actulally went and were very excited to see us. Charlotte introduced her grandaugter to us, a beautiful young lady who plans to be a doctor and already speaks several languages. Lilli brought us a present, a Jewish fairytales and legends.It was a very touching moment, the way we can connect with someone. This is a great experience I can apply to my classes inviting people to meet my students to tell their stories. This will make their learning more meaningful and authentic.
The visit to the Heldenplatz and the Hofburg, were the Habsburgs ruled for centuries and 200.000 Austrians came to greet Hitler was amazing. We visited the Library, an amazing building, full of history where we had the chance to see the Sarajevo Haggadah. The visit to the Jewish museum was very interesting, specially the objects in the exhibition that were used as propaganda against Jewish.
Day 3 in Vienna: The Belvedere. The paintings of famous painters as Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt and Edward Munch. I will use them in my Literature class when my students analyze the artistic movement in relation to the literary movement in Europe.