Learning is powerful. My feelings towards both World Wars, although connected through the community, education, and individuals, had always been disconnected and some may even say cold or unemotional. This, for me, has changed. Drastically. Through my thorough education on this tour, my understanding has gone to a whole new level. The incredible and ground breaking understanding that I have found stems from the emotional roller coaster I have realized that this trip is for me through shock, truth, horror, and immense sadness.
War is not a video game or a Hollywood film. This is actually a statement I find so much truth in for two reasons. One, it took several of my students reading a memoir and interviewing a Holocaust survivor to realize the facts, truth and horror of war. And also the second is the comment of my dear friend, Andy also made it very clear that he hated the fiction that Hollywood spewed to the multitudes because he had lived, participated and survived a war. To me, I always agreed and said of course it isn’t true, war is not a game or movie. But, my actual realization has been fully awakened through the process we have been taken on here. Examples of this include exercises that have walked us through their footsteps and decision making processes. Also, the soldier biography which made us look into the fine details of their life before the war, their participation, and their death, all taking us far beyond just a battle. But, like my soldier, so many of us found profound connections to their lives and their memory. In what better way can war be taught and defined as something real and horrifying? Not only that but in what other way can your realize the impact these people, these humans had on other human lives?
The sadness seen in the stories of our soldiers, the civilians, and the people of the communities that the soldiers came from have had an impact on my own learning. They have added to the story that has been untold, at least for me. The power of excellent and authentic professional development has hit me. I feel overwhelmed, struck, and a bit dumbfounded by the combination of information and emotions which have flowed through the experience provided on this tour. It will take me some time to process all the information and pedagogical realities tied to the experience I have lived on this tour. However, this is the best process which I have ever been through as it has made me realize gaps in my education and understanding as both a historian and an educator. I am happy to have been made to think and been provided with the opportunity to laugh, cry and be absolutely dumbfounded with the information that has been presented to me in this process. It is an experience I will take with me back to the classroom and hope to pass on to many future students.
Shayna Zubko, High School teacher