I have studied abroad, participated in other cross cultural and fellowship programs, worked on communitiy service projects, adventured through DOC trips, filled an officer's position in a fraternity, and played on a varisty team. And without a doubt, Project Preservation has been the most impactful learning and growing experience I have had at Dartmouth.

I don't know where to begin in describing or somehow sharing the experience that was Project Preservation. I will try though...to give you a little taste of the program, follow this recipe:

To begin with, imagine a fast paced, guided tour through Poland and Belarus. In two weeks you cover enough historical sites and landmarks to keep Rick Steves occupied for months. To this, incorporate a thesis's worth of researching and learning about the Holocaust (we studied and prepared for a term prior to leaving)... add an honors course of European History for good measure. Now take this mixture and immerse it Polish and Belarussian culture: cuisine, language, lifestyle, everything... urban, rural, and in between. When you arrive in Lunna, Belarus, rewind the timer a good 60 years as you encounter World War II veterans, Holocaust survivors, and townspeople whose lifestyle has changed little since that period in history. Remove all sleep! On this trip, you realize that the act is underrated and generally hinders your experience. You can sleep at home. Set your average at 4 to 5 hours a night. Now take a breath and stir up your energy... its time to work. You toil feverishly for a week rebuilding and documenting a Jewish cemetery. After you've finished, there are blisters on you palms, dirt smeared all over your body, and your bags are now packed with ruined clothing. However, there is a wide smile on your face; you've made a perceptively big difference. Not only in the beautifully restored cemetery but in the surrounding Belarussian community and also within the community of students that worked alongside of you.

Finally, to cap off this crazy concoction, add:

1000 and 1 adventures
100 and 1 new Polish and Belarussian acquaintances and email correspondents
a year's worth of introspection
and 19 new best friends (in many ways the participants of Project Preservation were the greatest aspect of the trip)

In the end, the only way to understand or begin to grasp the enormous experience of Project Preservation is to take part. Project Preservation was a truly an awe-inspiring and, though it sounds cliché, a life changing program. As I mentioned, it has marked my education at Dartmouth College.

Nathaniel Reimers ‘04