After many attempts to sit down and write up this reflection I realized how difficult it is for me to focus my thoughts about my trip to Poland and Belarus.  I have experienced so much on this one trip and I think the only way I can begin to reveal my feelings is to share a few lines from my diary:

“I am now 32,000 feet in the air heading back home to New York.  When I think back on my time spent in Poland and Belarus it all seems utterly surreal.  I would never have imagined that every moment of my trip would be spent thinking, questioning, and learning.  This was true even up till the last minutes when I was driving to the airport in Warsaw for my departure.  As we drove down one of the major roads I couldn’t believe that my experience was over.  Then I saw dozens of Poles sitting sporadically along the sides of the highway.  Each of them was desperately trying to sell a few jars of blueberries which probably took weeks to grow and collect.  At that point the familiar feeling of gratitude came over me.”

This feeling did not only occur on my way back to the airport; It was present while we were working in the cemetery, while walking around Auschwitz, when playing with the children in the Luna school, and especially while reflecting with the entire group.  I recall one incident where I was sitting on a park bench in Poland which 3 other group members.  One of them pointed out that this simple act would never have been possible 60 years ago.  This statement made me consider all the sacrifices that have been made to enable us to live the way that we do in the present.  Throughout my trip I continuously found myself being utterly thankful for both the life that I have been given and the time period that I have been able to live it in.  After thinking back on all the memories made during this trip I realize that this experience will never truly be over.  Overall this has been one of the most unforgettable experiences in my life and grateful and fortunate to have had it. 

Ashia Sheikh ‘08