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Poland and Prague Journal Series: Introduction

Students+enter+a+market+street+that+leads+to+St.+Mary%27s+Church+in+Gda%C5%84sk%2C+Poland.
Students enter a market street that leads to St. Mary's Church in Gdańsk, Poland.

Students enter a market street that leads to St. Mary's Church in Gdańsk, Poland.

Brian Demo

Brian Demo

Students enter a market street that leads to St. Mary's Church in Gdańsk, Poland.

Brian Demo '17, Staff Writer

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I write from a compact seating space on LOT Polish Airlines.  Shortly ago, I glanced at the nearest clock.  It read, “3:15AM,” American time.  At this moment, a group of eleven — the instructor and myself included — embark on a journey to Poland and Prague to immerse ourselves in unique cultures and histories, while paradoxically looking for connections that bind us – many of which lie encased within the collective human spirit.

As a person who speaks little of the Polish language and flies with the masses, I humbly remain tightly packed like a sardine.  In my left ear, I hear a rather strong-looking woman snore as she sleeps.  In my right, I hear a mother gently whispering to calm her child.  However, as I poke my head up and focus harder, I see and hear a group of Orthodox Jewish men shifting their heads back-and-forth as they read passages from the Torah.

Each video screen tells something about the passenger occupying it.  Some individuals have romantic comedies playing.  Typically, these individuals sit with a friend or no party.  Some tune into music and attempt to remain planted in their seat and sleep throughout the duration.  Some—mainly the elderly demographic—watch old Polish classics, where they return to the artistic golden years.  And others simply go left field, merely choosing something to pass the time.

I shift toward the window.  The sky floods gradients of dark blue over the clouds.  The pigments lighten with each key that I touch.  We head to Warsaw – a destination that boasts over a six-hour time difference.  However, rather than motioning into the future, we also seek to go back.

My group and I plan to explore nations that showcase tremendous art across all disciplines.  In addition, we set out to place our feet on sites that serve as milestones to countries with complex cultures.  Now established states, these areas both possess very dynamic histories.  Their distinctive cultures—mixed with Nazi and Soviet ingredients—produce moments of confident triumphs, as well as times of deeply emotional pain.

This piece serves as an introduction to a two-part series.

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Poland and Prague Journal Series: Introduction