The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.
― Eleanora Roosevelt
I found out about the project from my high school Polish language teacher. He suggested that I took part in a program organized by the International Youth Meeting Center in Oświęcim. Unfortunately, the program did not happen because of the pandemic, but a few months later I learned about this project, and this is how I got here.
We were able to hold the introductory meeting of the Polish group offline in Oświęcim, and I believe this made our future work on the tasks easier. In the beginning I was stressed because I had never participated in online projects before, and I was the youngest participant in the group. But I was charged with positive energy, and it turned out that my fears were groundless. I wanted to expand my knowledge on the Holocaust and World War II, to look at those matters from a different perspective, meet new people and experience other cultures.
The online sessions were fascinating and helped me with the preparations for the interview of my own; the atmosphere was pleasant and safe. I really enjoyed the sessions during which we explored the history of the Memory Spaces in Ukraine and in Germany, because I had never been there and did not know the history behind those places. Working on the presentation of the memoty space in Oświęcim was also thought-provoking and had educational value. We had a chance to visit the Jewish museum in Oświęcim, the Association of Roma and the Auschwitz-Birkenau, which encouraged thinking on the history of the town and better understanding of the events that had taken place there.
While getting ready for interviewing my grandma I experienced difficulties. Because of the pandemic, I couldn’t visit her personally, and thus didn’t have access to the old photos and documents that would surely be of some help. Also, she doesn’t use the Internet, so I had to interview her over the phone, which was demanding and challenging. Yet I was really surprised that my grandma was so engaged, open and spontaneous while speaking. The situation was unusual, but it also had its upsides, because it gave me a chance to spend time with my mom and my granny talking about the memories and experiences from their younger years. I was also surprised by the fact that despite the remote nature of this project I was able to meet wonderful people, and we are still staying in touch.
What I liked about the whole project was a number of interesting topics raised during the sessions, getting to know fantastic people, learning from the experiences of others and reading many intriguing documents. I truly admire all the coordinators. The only challenges I had were of technical ones: I have never used the Mural platform before, so I wasn’t skilled in using it. Sometimes the sessions were full of interesting information, but it was a little too hard to focus for such a long period of time. The discussions and debates were my favorite parts, because the conversations with other participants were exciting, and I could learn lots of things from them.
During the project I became more confident with speaking in English; I opened up to other people, learned to express my opinions on a variety of subjects. My head is still full of questions and subjects I would like to dig deeper into. Now I am better motivated to expand my knowledge on those subjects. I am really happy that I had a chance to participate in the project, and I hope we all can meet in real life someday.