To be open for new experiences and not to be afraid of changes

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.

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