CIEE Poland Springbreak trip
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Janelle Brassel

Major: anthropology
Minor: Jewish studies, History
Hometown: Harrisburg

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I first learned of this opportunity through fliers around campus. Professors from other classes also made announcements in class. After researching, I thought it would a great opportunity. 

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

A group of Penn State students from the History/JST 426 class spent Spring Break in Poland. We started in Warsaw and discussed Holocaust history there. Then we went to Oswiecim, the small village outside of Auschwitz concentration camp. We spent two days in the camp viewing the different exhibitions and the buildings that are still standing. We also worked on small projects where we pick a specific location or block in the camp and study its history of use. We then traveled to Krakow to learn about the Jewish ghetto there and the Plaszow concentration camp.

"This experience gave me the opportunity to see the places that I've studied since before I was in college."

How did this experience impact you academically?

This experience gave me the opportunity to see the places that I've studied since before I was in college. It gave me spatial awareness when it comes to the locations that are written about in memoirs and textbooks. It also gave me the chance to see how these places have changed in the seventy years since the Holocaust and how the local population reacts to the history of where they live their everyday lives. It is an interesting topic, especially because of the decades of communism that has happened since. The different regimes remember the Holocaust differently, and it is nice to see that after so long the democratic government established more memorials than the soviets did.

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

I hope to work in the Jewish History Museum of Baltimore in their museum education department. Eventually I would also like to go back to school and possibly teach history or Jewish studies at the university level. This experience gave me an edge when it comes to applying for jobs because it sets me apart from other applicants.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I would recommend this experience because everyone should travel in college and get an international perspective on their studies.

For more on global opportunities for Liberal Arts students, visit our website
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