Part I: Presentations Part II: Irene Gut Opdyke

Part I (Class Presentations)

Janelle and Heather’s presentation pointed out a very obscure fact today. I thought it was quite interesting that white sneakers are considered touristy/American. It’s small bits of information like that that make a person realize how different coutries are. We have the same types of buildings, drinks, etc…but the small things we still differ in! The only bad part about listening on what to wear to be comfortable and warm is knowing that the pictures we take are going to be with us for the rest of our lives. I mean, I want to look cute if half the world is going to see them, right? I know, it’s a stupid thing to worry over. But it can be hard to be warm, comfortable, cute, AND on a budget!

As for Monica and Angela’s packing information….well, what girl is not groaning right now?! Haha! I do take pride in the fact that while y’all will be sharing hair curlers/dryers I’ll be sleeping in that extra 5-10 minutes baby! (Note: No matter how “funny” it might seem like to wake me up so that I don’t get those extra few minutes is not a wise idea. I may look small and helpless but I’m like a mama bear when someone wakes me up. Note to Note: Sorry in advance to my roomies.)

Allan mentioned the forum www.polishforums.com and I was excited because David and I had discovered that site as well! Poles keep telling me that as long as I don’t act like a stuck up American that is the conquerer of the world I’ll be good to go. So I just plan on acting like the Texan that is the conquerer of the world…kidding.

Part II

I have listened to everyone’s projects and saw pictures but they seemed like just projects and pictures.  I’ve looked at Brant’s cars with y’all, I’ve laughed as Katie talked about not packing guns/knives/bombs, I’ve groaned as I wonder what shoes I’m going to take, I’ve heard everyone’s speeches right alongside all of y’all. But nothing was really sinking in. Janelle mentioned in a post that it was the same for her. I want to be on this trip as much as the next person but it was still so unreal to me. And that’s when I remembered….

When I was a pre-teen, gosh around 11 or 12 years old, my grandmother bought me a book on tape called In My Hands by Irene Gut Opdyke. I hadn’t listened to it in quite a few years because, well, it’s on tape! Lucky for me I work at a book store. I bought the book a couple days ago and have been reintroduced to this wonderful lady. Irene was a seventeen year old Catholic, Polish woman when Russia and Germany came in from both sides of her country and dividied it up amongst themselves. She was training to be a nurse at the time and was several cities away from her family. She was forced to flee, raped, beaten, worked at a Russian hospital, almost raped again…the list goes on. What’s amazing about her (other than, of course, surviving all I mentioned above) is that she was later forced to be a mistress of a Nazi general. Under his very nose she hid and helped 16 Jewish men and women. One even had a baby while living underneath the general’s floorboards.

I have always loved her story. For years I have admired this woman and questioned how anyone could be as brave as her. Suddenly, as I started rereading her book, it hit me that I was going to be in the same country this woman lived in! She did later move to America and has since died, but many of the places she mentions are Polish cities! In fact, she grew up in a northeast division of Krakow! That’s when everything concerning this trip really started to sink in. I mean yes, I love Night and Elie Wiesel, and have known of his story for a few years but I have had Irene “with” me since I’ve been a child. Her life has been intertwined with my mind for 10-11 years. She was not Jewish yet she was caught up in the war like anyone else. The customs David and I researched (some of which we did not include in our powerpoint) are the same customs she mentions in the book! Poland was her home, Poland was her pride. And I get to visit that country!

If anyone wants this book we have about 2 copies at Barnes and Noble. $6.99 each.
-Cristin

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Published in: on March 1, 2008 at 10:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

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