Leah Zuckerman’s Global Citizen Project

Travelers on EF Study Abroad programs can receive our EF/Nobel Prize Museum Global Citizen Certificate, issued by EF Education First and the Nobel Prize Museum, upon completion of a multimedia project based on their study abroad experience. The Global Citizen Project is designed to equip students with the skills to be leaders for peace and global prosperity and can use this certificate of completion in their own resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and portfolio. Learn more about our Global Citizen Project.

Our travelers responded to this prompt: The Nobel Prize Museum celebrates the world-changing ideas of the Nobel Laureates, and their commitment to making the world a better, more truthful place. How did your travel experience help you deepen your appreciation of the global dimensions of your program, uncover a truth about the world, develop a new idea, or provide you with the knowledge, skills and attitudes that will enable you to contribute to making the world a better place?

Certificate Paper

Project submitted by: Leah Zuckerman, Rowan University

There were many things that stood out to me on this trip. The food, some cultural differences, particularly the lack of people letting me pet their dogs. There were also lots of things that I would have written about for this paper like the movie that made me lose sleep or the Polish woman who cursed my professor. I actually am struggling to think about what to write for this paper. This trip introduced me to so many things.

The thing that stopped me in my tracks, however, of all the horrific things we saw on this trip, was the small showcase in Auschwitz with the baby clothes in it. Seeing that stopped me in my tracks and was one of the main reasons I cried for the rest of the day.

I should preface with the fact that my sister is pregnant with a baby boy and I am very excited to be an aunt. However, no matter how much I recognize that my family has a very common last name, it is still very uncomfortable seeing Zuckerman on walls and pictures. So, with that in the back of my head, I couldn’t help but, selfishly, think “this could’ve been my family. We would have been considered Jewish, and those baby clothes would have been those of my nephew.”

Not only that but something about thinking that this happened to adults versus children is very different to me. In the back of my head all I could hear was children and babies scared and confused screaming for their parents as they were separated, or watching them get beaten or killed. After having seen those clothes, little kids were all I could think about. I think they’re significant because it’s important to remember that this wasn’t just people or numbers (as our tour guide explained) but it was families and children who weren’t able to live out the lives they deserved, even if they lived, they never got to experience childhood and they were most likely traumatized by what they had been through and their lives would never be the same or what we would consider “normal.”

I appreciated that they put the clothes in their own showcase as a kind of stand out because it forced people to remember the babies and the innocent kids who lost their lives. Most places only recall the adults and teens. While you may see a baby shoe in the pile of shoes, putting the clothes in their own showcase forces people to see the baby shoes, forcing people to remember the babies. It broke my heart to think about them, who didn’t know what was ahead of them, and were forced to die under the hands of such cruelty.

By now, you must be wondering why I brought this up for this paper. This trip opened my eyes to so many things, but mostly inspired me to want to make a difference. I do not want anyone to go through the horrors that the victims of the Holocaust went through. I want to use my knowledge from this experience to make policy, to work for the UN or go to schools and educate young minds about genocide and the warning signs, so that they may grow to work toward a better world. I am hoping to get my masters degree at Rowan University in Holocaust and Genocide education and this trip gave me a once in a lifetime insight into that world. With this, I can better educate myself and those around me to make sure this never happens again.

Not only that, but this trip opened my eyes to the fact that we aren’t all so different. I walked around 4 different countries and about 5 different cities. No matter where we went, people were people. I think as Americans we see other countries as so different from us, and while there are things that are different, like paying to use the restrooms, most things are the same. I never felt like a foreigner while I was there, I never felt like I did not belong, because no matter where you are, people are people. Since I got back, I have been talking to friends and family about the trip and so many people have asked me about how different Europe was and how different Europeans are. However, what they don’t see or understand is that they’re not that different. Many stores, bars, clubs and social places played american music, theaters showed american movies; which opened up a whole new door.

American influence on the rest of the world. Maybe things did not feel so different because of American influence. As I walked around, coffee shops and restaurants played American music, and posters for the new Top Gun movie were everywhere. America has so much influence on the world, and almost everyone speaks English, yet Americans do not take the time to learn about European culture or language with the exception of British culture. Being in Poland was the best example of this to me, as the only things I ever heard about Poland or the Polish People are the rude jokes, not that I ever believed them, my Grandfather is Polish. Being in Poland showed me so many things. First it was absolutely beautiful, second it showed how places and people that were destroyed could rebuild and completely revamp and own their history. I was taken back when I saw Warsaw, a city that was completely destroyed, was one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen.

I know it may seem like I am jumping around all over the place, but this trip opened my eyes to so many things. This trip absolutely helped to deepen my appreciation of the global dimensions of my program- the Holocaust in Europe. Being in the places where this tragedy occurred made everything much more real and helped to deepen my understanding, as I was able to see the places I hear so much about in books and movies, and I was able to better understand the history that so many people refuse to learn about, and with that refusal comes history repeating itself. I want to use this experience to work toward a better world and help those who are or will be in danger of genocide.

See the other Global Certificate projects here.