Lauren Fisher, 13K, writes:
On Friday 26th January, 19 Year 13 students, accompanied by Ms Bavishi and Mr Braybrook, left cold Welwyn Garden City for even colder Poland. After a short plane journey, we arrived at Hotel Alexander II in Kraków for an evening of exploring the town square (adorned still with Christmas decorations!) and getting our bearings. First stop for the majority of us was, of course, McDonalds…
Saturday was our first full day, and we left the hotel at 9am sharp for a guided walking tour of the city. With temperatures merely scraping 2°C, we were wrapped up warm indeed. The tour included the Old Town Square, University District, Wawel Royal Castle and Kazimierz, the former Jewish Quarter. It was a great opportunity to see more of the beautiful city, learn about its history from our extremely informative guide, and inevitably take lots of pictures! After lunch we were given some free time, during which most of us found ourselves in the Galeria shopping centre… it’s safe to say lots of zlotys were spent in Sephora!
Sunday was a very early start for all – we were picked up at 6:30am and left the city centre for Auschwitz. We were guided first around the Auschwitz I Main Camp where we saw the well-known front gate sign, remaining blocks, a gas chamber and the particularly poignant display of human hair, suitcases, shoes and traditional Jewish clothing. We moved on to Auschwitz II – Birkenau to be guided around the prisoner barracks, unloading platform and ruins of gas chambers and crematoria. It was an exceptionally moving visit, and certainly one that we won’t forget.
Sadly Monday was our final day, but as our flight wasn’t until the evening we still managed to make the most of it. Our first stop was the Galicia Jewish Museum, which is a photo exhibition commemorating the victims of the Holocaust and celebrating Jewish culture and life in Polish Galicia. At the museum, we were fortunate enough to meet with a concentration camp survivor. She shared her stories of becoming a prisoner at Auschwitz at just three years old, her experiences at the camp, being liberated at five years old and her journey since then. It really was an unforgettable, touching and eye-opening experience.
After one final trip to the shopping centre, we boarded the coach and left for the airport. England felt slightly tropical when we landed! All of the year 13s would like to say a huge thank you to Ms Bavishi and Mr Braybrook for organising such a fantastic trip where so many memories were made, especially with it being our last school trip at Stanborough.
“We’ve learnt about the horrors of concentration camps in our history lessons but actually visiting one and meeting a survivor makes it all so much more shocking and real. It was an amazing experience.” Annabel Smith 13S
“Auschwitz was so emotional. The photographs of the victims and being inside the gas chamber made it all so real and unforgettable.” Chloe Dinnage 13S
“It was an amazing trip. I had the best time!” Lauren Fisher 13K