Lethbridge students experience ‘haunting’ history on trip to Europe
The Holocaust is a time in history many have read about, but students at Catholic Central High School in Lethbridge were able to put their books down and experience first-hand the chilling sites this April during a class trip to Europe.
“Being able to feel history, it’s a really different experience than reading about it,” said Zachary Connick, a Grade 12 student at CCH. “It’s almost like someone was here, putting their hand on this pillar or the Berlin Wall, then you’re doing it so many years later.”
“To walk through those barracks, it was almost haunting in a way,” Grade 11 student Teagan Neufeld added about her time on the trip. “To see all these trees blooming, the grass growing and to imagine all those people being there while the rest of the world just carried on.”
The group of students took to the skies on a 10-day trip, with aims to tour several Holocaust locations across Europe.
The first stop was Germany, then Poland, and finally the Czech Republic.
“We knew it was something that was going to change not only their lives but our lives as well,” said Shelley Kirkvold, social studies teacher and group leader on the trip. “How we end up teaching in our classrooms, how we’re able to put that perspective in as something with much more depth, empathy and all those things — that really resonates in our classrooms.”
During their stay, the group spent several days visiting what they described as “numbing” sites from the Berlin Wall to the Cold War memorials.
But one place, in particular, seemed to stand out most to the students.
“Walking in Auschwitz, it was just hard to imagine at first how many people had died,” Zach Sproule, a Grade 11 student, said.
“Over time I thought to myself, ‘I’m probably standing where someone stood who was eventually murdered,’ and that was a very surreal and troubling thought.”
This was the first trip the school has taken to tour these sites, Kirkvold adding the EF tour company did an amazing job of elevating the journey.
Although the trip was only 10 days long, for many, it was a journey into the past they’ll never forget.
“It’s beautiful to see the experience and the touching moments it has on the kids’ lives,” Tom Collier, a social studies teacher and group leader on the trip, said.
“Seeing them really come together in times of anguish and not very bright moments on our history as humanity, it was a blessing to see.”
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