Name: Katie Holman
Type of Project: Study Abroad
For my STEP signature project I participated in Ohio State’s World War II Study Abroad tour. Through this program I was able to travel through Europe starting in London, followed by a tour of France, a stop in Krakow and ending in Berlin.
This trip was the highlight of my time at Ohio State. I have always had a passion for history, however I was only able to follow this passion through studying in books, listening in lectures and watching documentaries. This program allowed me to add a whole new dimension to my historical study. It is one thing to be able to study a country’s specific attitudes and cultures, its completely different to be able to experience these things for yourself. Through this program I learned how British’s view of the war seems to match that of the United States. In France they try to cover up for some of the collaboration they participated in the war. Krakow takes on a heroic narrative to try and cover the painful memories of the war years. Finally Germany offered a more apologetic narrative of the war.
Being able to visit Normandy was really where I began to see a differences between the United States view of the world and another countries. Obviously, the beaches of Normandy are famous as the location of the D-Day invasion. These beaches are a powerful component of American history, even though they are thousand of miles from the United States. That being said American heroics were not nearly as celebrated as they are here. The town of Bayeux where we stayed celebrated the American liberators, however many of the French museums we visited in Normandy offered an interesting contrast. They really played up the French involvement with the liberation as well and the resistance unit. While this doesn’t really follow the narrative we learn in America, it can be easy to see why the French wouldn’t want to be associated with German collaboration.
The most powerful place we visited on our study tour was Auschwitz death camp. It is one thing to read about the camp, and to see pictures, but it is a completely different one to be able to experience it in person. Here was a site where millions of victims lost their lives to indescribable evil. The camp itself doesn’t look like anything special. However, there is a dark mood hanging over it. It would be impossible to be able to fell the mood of the camp without actually having visited the camp itself.
This trip expanded my horizons far more than I could ever imagined. I learned about new people, experience new foods and saw new things. However the biggest thing I took away from this trip is how similar people throughout the world really are. Europe to me always use to seem so foreign, yet after having visited it, I realize it is not so foreign after all. Learning about how similar the human race is, while still appreciating its difference will help me in my future career. I hope to become a lawyer and learning to be empathetic toward new cultures and new people will serve me well in this career field.
link to my blog: http://u.osu.edu/wwiihistorytour/author/holman-120/