Czech Republic 2006

Cohort II

From January 2-11, 2006, half of Cohort II traveled to Prague, Czech Republic (the other half traveled to Shanghai, China). The trip was led by Art King, Professor of Economics and Teaching Fellow Liz Vogtsberger.

Trip highlights included:

  • Sightseeing in Prague--tour of Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral
  • Tour of the Jewish Quarter: cemetary, museums, synagogues, Wenceslas Sqaure, and market
  • Attend jazz club performance
  • Excursion to Tabor to see musuems, catacombs, and tunnels
  • Lecture: "The Political, Social, and Cultural Environment during and after Communism"
  • Trips to Karlsejn and Horsovsky Tyn to explore the villages and castles
  • Volunteer with the children of Detsky Domuv in Horsovsky Tyn
  • Tour of Terezin Concentration Camp
  • Prague history and legends night tour
  • Attend Don Giovanni marrionette performance
  • Attend a Slavia vs. Sparta hockey game

"For the first time on the trip the Charles Bridge was my destination, not a vehicle transporting me elsewhere in the city. I could stand on the bridge and just be. Matt, Takuro and I put on our warmest clothes and headed down to the tram stop. We made it to the bridge around 11:30pm and prepared to watch the lights turn off around the city. As I walked around I was almost by myself. Matt and Takuro had gone off to experience the bridge in their own ways and I was left to my thoughts. While walking I could begin to imagine the people of generations past taking the same path. A solitary and proud song was playing in my head as I saw painters capturing the sunrise, Kings looking out over their city, a poor maid on her way to work, children dancing on a sunny afternoon, history just strolling by. Thoughts kept running through my head, how could I not think about all of this history, all of these stories? Until that moment all that I had learned about Prague and the Czech Republic had been abstract. My mind knew it had happened but I had yet to experience it." -Sarah Morgan

"Perhaps the best example of the non-physical beauty of Prague, and perhaps entire Czech Republic, I encountered in the orphanage we visited. At first it was difficult and a little bit awkward, considering the language barrier. However, with a little bit of music, a football, and charades, everyone quickly became close. I went outside with all the boys to play some soccer, football, and basketball. The kids were just so happy we were even there, giving them attention, and treating them as our equals, that they didn't even care what happened. They played and laughed, and we did the same. The smile on my face was enormous and didn't leave until our bus pulled out; I was having the time of my life. With all the responsibilities their lives required, not having parents available, the kids were just so appreciative of their ability to just be kids and play with some new friends. They were so naïve in not knowing just how much better their lives could be, however, they were all the more wiser in appreciating, accepting, and maximizing their situation to its full potential. So they didn't have the best clothing, toys, place to live, and courtyard to play in. But, it didn't matter, because what is more important is that they had each other, their friends, brothers, and sisters, and they now had us, the only non-family members that had ever come to visit." -Corey Luthringer

"I came to Detsky Domov with the idea that I could make a difference in the lives of all the children. As I sat in the clearly divided living room staring at over fifty children, I felt my goal would never be accomplished. I left realizing that I do not have to make a difference in the life of every child. Impacting the life of one child is enough; enough to make me want to help again." -Katie Noderer

 

"Today our morning was spent at Terezín, about a two-hour bus ride from our dorms in Prague. Terezín is the site of a Jewish concentration camp operated by the Nazis during World War II. Unlike other concentration camps intended for extermination, Terezín's main purpose was to house prisoners before they were transported, serving as a way station for other camps and ghettoes throughout Eastern Europe. Of everything that we saw at Terezín, I was most deeply moved by our final visit to the museum. One thing that distinguished Terezín during the war was the amount of prisoners who were artistically and musically talented. Despite their situation, these people would often hold secret concerts and performances, and many would paint and compose music in their spare time. A great deal of people continued to teach music or give lectures on their areas of expertise. Others kept detailed accounts of their lives through journals. For these reasons, the museum had on display many pieces of artwork, musical compositions, and poetry and letters written by the prisoners. As someone who personally has had a background in music, I was particularly inspired by the stories of the musicians, many of whom continued to compose and teach up until being sent to different camps. From what I understood from the displays, many of the people who were honored in the museum were still young, in the prime of their lives. Contained within Terezín's walls, these men and women were able to relentlessly pursue what they loved in the face of adversity, holding onto what was beautiful while surrounded by atrocities. I found the exhibits to be not only a tribute to these extraordinary people but also to the precious value of art and the remarkable strength of the human spirit." -Annie Hong, Cohort II