After a slight detour, I am finally with my study abroad group in Prague. Today was the day we were scheduled to visit the town of Terezin, which became a Jewish ghetto during WWII. We loaded onto the bus and were on our way. When we got closer to Terezin I started to feel a slight pain in the back of my head, the physical reactions I experienced while being in such a heavy space was eye-opening.
We went to a fortress built by the Austrian empire a few centuries ago. This was an area where political prisoners were held by the Nazi regime. The small rooms where prisoners slept had hardly anything, just a wood bunk for sleeping, a long table, and a sink where a bucket of water was added every day for washing up. Our guide mentioned that these rooms often held up to 90 people towards the end of the war. It was hard to imagine so many people in such a small space.
We had such wonderful guides at Terezin, who showered us with knowledge about Terezin during WWII and the background history of the area before Nazi occupation. I am so grateful for the opportunity to experience being present in a space that once held so much suffering and sadness because it’s the best way to learn about what others have gone through during such horrific times. The Nazi regime was especially heinous with absurdly cruel mechanisms for handling prisoners and anyone they deemed as the ‘other’. I believe the best way to learn from history is to visit the spaces in which these realities took place. Of course, I can learn about camps such as Terezin from anywhere, but it is an entirely different experience to step foot into what life was like for them during this time. The aura of the space sent chills throughout my body. I could feel the pain and suffering. So many lost their lives during this time.
Living in America it can be easy to forget about what has happened in other parts of the world because it’s not as easily visible. However, when it comes to history, we must keep it in our minds to prevent the past from becoming our future again. I hope everyone gets the opportunity to visit a historical sight like Terezin and that they take their time, doing everything possible to learn about the experiences of others.
After resting for five days and then traveling all day via train, my energy levels were a bit low today but I did everything possible to be present and learn as much as possible from our guides. It was a bit uncomfortable joining my group a few days late, I felt like I had missed out on time to bond with my classmates, but I know our journey is just getting started. Tomorrow, we embark on a food tour with a well-known company Taste of Prague! I am so excited to dive into delicious Czech food. Ahoj for now!