Together, Restoring their Names sponsored a trip for a group of students from Clark University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute to travel to Germany with Germany Close Up. Aaron Madow, a student leader at Clark Hillel participated in the trip and shared his thoughts upon his return home:
I’ve traveled out of the United States four times in my life, and each of those times have been organized group trips with a school or school affiliate. With time to reflect, I’ve come to realize my experiences with Germany Close Up were the most meaningful of my four journeys.
From an organizational standpoint, Germany Close Up provided an extremely well-rounded trip, and by far exceeded my expectations. The way the program was structured really encouraged free thought and reflection, as well as created an environment where the participant can view Germany with one’s own lens. From a personal standpoint, this trip was the most meaningful to me because it gave me hope for the future. Often times, especially with the current climate in the United States, I find myself thinking that humanity hasn’t learned from past travesties, whether that be slavery in the United States, persecution of Native American peoples, or the Holocaust. However, so many times on this trip I found myself amazed by the individual and collective efforts people are putting forward in order to recognize the past and keep that past from repeating in the future.
One example of this was when we visited the archive that recorded oral histories of the Holocaust and the experiences of survivors and their children. This is a huge personal area of interest for myself, especially considering I someday hope to do qualitative research, and have conducted previous interviews that were similar. I think these particular archives are incredibly important because they provide tangible evidence that, for one, the Holocaust occurred, and two, provide a way to keep the memory alive in order to prevent similar events from occurring in the future. Often times, these stories perish when people pass away, and I’m sure there is an insurmountable number of them that have not been told. But the work done at this institute should not go unnoticed. I think another example of collective efforts for a better future is the Germany Close Up trip organized by the ASF. The dialogue that occurred on this trip was extremely memorable, and granting an opportunity for American Jewish students to interact with modern Germany I think creates a cohesive alliance that will continue to advocate for a better future together.