Getting to the airport early I sat there listening to the talking-heads on CNN go on and on about the New England Patriots' deflated ball fiasco. It was rather ridiculous. I am glad that I didn't check my bag through Chicago, but I did have to check it once there, it worked out rather nicely.
Flying to Munich I sat next to a really interesting man from Munich, he is a 55 year old veterinarian who studied in San Francisco. He and his family travel the world on vacations, most recently to Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam. We discussed travel, education, religion and the German perspective of World War II and post war Germany. From his perspective, post war Germany didn't have much national pride. Many people were afraid to fly the German flag, it wasn't until the 2006 World Cup. The new generations of Germans reclaimed their national pride.
The plane was so old that there were still ashtrays in the bathrooms. The in flight monitors didn't work and enough people complained, that they gave us all $25 vouchers. Although it didn't really bother me, but it worked out.
Arriving in Munich I remembered the passport check in and terminal from last June. I still can't get over how easy it is to fly into the continental European Union. We had a very short passport check in Munich and nothing in Poland. It's gonna take at least 2 hours when I get back to the US.
I immediately tried to get my phone to work, it didn't connect to any network, I tried rebooting, manually connecting, nothing. I thought, "Well, maybe it will work in Poland. That's where I told them I would be." Still didn't work in Poland. Since we had 4 hours until we had to meet for the opening session a group of us went out and explored. Well, explored with a mission. Tracy needed a brush, some needed money from a bank and I needed my phone fixed. Two hours and four phone stores later, my phone still didn't work. Eventually, meaning the next night, I got a hold of my husband and he was able to call someone to get my phone working.
At the opening dinner I realized how big this program really is, we have have a security detail. This is where I first met Paula Lebovics, Holocaust survivor, she is one of the cutest, strongest, women I have ever met. The most touching moment of the evening was when Olga Burkhardt showed up and saw Paula. The moment they saw each other there was a spark. I wish there was a way to capture that moment, it was beautiful. Like to souls separated and meeting after a long absence. Just watching them I could feel the affection between them.
You can read there store HERE on the USC Shoah Foundation website.
January 24, 2015
Today was our first sessions of the the conference and they were really great. I got a lot of really good information. There are several things I will be doing with my classes. (I will post a page of conference notes on the main pages of my website for those of you who are interested.) They talked to us about tomorrow, apparently there will be some VP people joining us. Word on the "Street" is that is is Steven Spielberg who gave the program its name, "The Past is Present."
I had the great opportunity to talk to some amazing junior interns about some of my class projects. They were able to help me work through some ideas from a student perspective. they even made connections that I hadn't seen before, I wish they were my students. I spoke to Paula again, this time about movies in the classroom. When I mentioned, "Life is Beautiful" she shuttered angrily saying that movies is a, "slap in the face to Holocaust survivors." When I asked her if there was a better movie and she said, "Shoah" is much better." We later had a lovely conversation about family and her travels to Australia. I want to keep talking to and learning from her.
This evening a small group of us went out and explored Warsaw. Adam (from Poland) and Steve (from England) make great tag-team tour guides.