Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sunday: Exploring We Go

The past 48 hours have been filled with new foods, new places, new people, and of course, new inspiration. 

We met in the lobby of the hotel at 8:30 for breakfast. By 9:30 our stomachs were full and we were meeting new friends from all around the world! The hotel lobby was filled with the sounds of students talking. If you listened closely you could hear different languages and accents scattered about the conversation. How incredible to be surrounded by representatives from so many countries! 

At 10:00 we boarded a bus for an official tour of Warsaw. Our tour guide was knowledgable and passionate about her home city of Warsaw and thus we learned much more than the mere location of famous buildings. We stopped by the Palace Park and walked through the beautiful pathways. The air was brisk and the trees boasted their perfect Autumn colors. We visited Old Warsaw which is a section of the city that, although rebuilt after the war, has maintained it's antiquated architecture and ambiance. The cobblestone streets, small family restaurants, and street performers offered a rich look into the history and culture of this wonderful city. Our tour concluded with a journey through the area of the Warsaw Ghetto. Although today the area is now renovated, our tour guide painted a vivid picture of what life was like for the hundreds of thousands of Jews that were forced into such an atrocity. Outside the parameters of the Ghetto, we saw the train platform where the Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto would board trains to the extermination camps outside of the city. Reality set in immediately and we were reminded of why we are here and why this experience is so meaningful. 

After the tour we were quite hungry so we decided to try out some kebab. There we sat like a happy family- trying new foods, sharing stories, and laughing. The food was excellent, but we had to rush back to the hotel to attend our first meeting with the other youth at the summit! 

As we re-entered the hotel lobby, students and Summit staff were bustling about. We continued to meet new friends as we waited in line for our official Summt Passes and information packets. We were ushered into a conference room where we were greeted by some of the Summit Staff. Their welcome addresses were short but exciting; their passion for the students was tangible. The energy in the room was vibrant. 

Students were asked to join into groups and create a slogan that represents why they are here and what they want to do. Xavier offered to be the speaker for his group! He got up on the microphone and spoke to this crowd of world youth about why students need to take action together in order to "lift up the entire world." We were so incredibly proud! 

The night ended with a traditional Polish dinner. Pierogi! They were delicious. The students are begging to go back before we leave!

Here are some photos from our tour! 
New Friends from Indonesia

Group Photo in Old Warsaw

Xavier Representing America 
Palace Park

Happy Kids!

Beautiful Autumn in the Park Overlooking the Palace

Keren & Frankie loving the experience!

Just hanging out in Old Warsaw

Taking in Some History

Warsaw Ghetto Memorial

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