Friday, October 25, 2013

A Sense of Home in Krakow

Today tested the patience and willpower of our students.  The morning deadline was 5:50AM, much earlier than previously required.  To add insult to injury there was a stair-filled, luggage wrestling, 20-minute walk to the train station.  Yes, there’s more!  Watching our students find the willpower and moral fortitude to carry on, board a claustrophobia inducing train, hold up a village railcar, and shuffle over cobblestones to a presumably haunted bed and breakfast in Krakow was inspiring and worth the sweat and swallowed tears.

Krakow, one of the few cities left standing in its original splendor after the war, provided our students with the jaw-dropping, camera-filling awe and wonder we were hoping for.  Our ever-fearless tour guide and leader skillfully weaved the delegation through back alleys and secret passages.  Her knowledge and familiarity with the surroundings provided an experience only a native could.  She told of a legend of the dragon bones found deep beneath the castle which captivated the audience and inspired glimmers of apprehension and skepticism in the eyes of both young and old. 

Touring Through Krakow

Traditional Polish Restaurant 

Read for Some Food!

All of our sore toes and aching backs were soon forgotten as we passed through the intricately adorned wrought-iron gates of Wawel Castle.  We were further rewarded by an flaming orange sunset, plunging through the horizon, and setting ablaze the clouds in reds, purples, and yellows.  A walk back to the main square in the shadow of the castle revealed a town center transformed into a busy, bustling village with street vendors, food carts, and even a blacksmith!  Our students marveled at the texture of fabrics, the glint of jewels, and intricately carved wooden toys. 

                                                              Installment Art in the Main Square

It would come time for our sense of hunger to give in to our sense of smell.  The scent of roasted nuts, grilled vegetables, and steaming stews danced past the Adam Mickiewicz Monument and through stone archways of Cloth Hall.  We were defenseless.  Sitting below the Church of St. Mary to our left and Town Hall Tower to our right we reveled in the atmosphere, enjoying authentic Polish offerings. 

Medieval Structures!  

Hanging out in the center of the city!

Today was a turning point for one of our students in particular.  While on a phone call home, Ms. Gleeson overheard her student tell his mother he, “never wanted to come home.”  This brought me to thinking about the phrase “home,” and what it means to our students.  Everyday we watch our group support, challenge, and grow together.  So, what is home?  Is home even a place?  I am apt to make a bold statement and suggest home is a state of being, not a location.  Do we not feel at home when we are comforted by those around us?  This powerful thought will travel with us tomorrow as we venture forth to a location that has been weighing on our minds the entire trip, Auschwitz.    

The Castle

This blog entry was written by Mr. Ives, Behavior Technician at the Nursing Academy and fellow chaperone.

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