First of all, titling this post as “Wrap Up” kind of seems like the wrong title. So, let’s think of it more as “Send Forth”! We did not wrap up anything but we were called to be sent out to our schools and dioceses to bear witness to what we have learned. We are to carry, or bear, the realities that we have encountered and teach others how to not let these tragedies happen again.
We learned the history of anti-Semitism…we learned what the Church did during the Holocaust…we heard a story of a survivor…we witnessed the evidence of anti-Judaism…we know where society went wrong. We learned that anti-Semitism isn’t an isolated event. We were called to learn, grow, and be the change in society through our classrooms.
Bearing Witness was a program like I never encountered before. It shared sadness, tears, and questions…but we also shared happiness, laughter, and answers. There were moments from this experience that I know I will never forget from both ends of the emotional spectrum. Some parts were overwhelming, but some parts were full of silliness. How can this be?
The answer is people! The educators on this experience were honest, real, and passionate! They wanted to be here! They wanted to grow! This is one of the most important part of growth as an educator…you have to want it! These 42 educators wanted it!
I had heard that the Bearing Witness was intense and could be difficult to encounter…and what I heard was correct. What I didn’t hear though is that bonds would be made from educators from across the country..Los Angeles to Boston! I didn’t hear that there would be joy and excitement…and there was plenty of that! I imagined it would change my life because it would be difficult and overwhelming. And it did, but it changed me because I grew within my profession and as a person.
I now see myself wondering what I can do to model behavior that will create an ally environment. I’m looking within to see how I can best serve my students. I’m looking at all the educators I have grown with this past week and figuring out how we can collaborate to not let this program be isolated to our schools, but expanded into our society!
I want to thank the Anti-Defamation League, NCEA, the USCCB, and Georgetown University for their commitment to the Bearing Witness Program! Naomi, Seth, Naomi, Fr. McManus, Rabbi Sandmel and all those who made this happen…Thank You!
Bearing Witness has meant a lot to me. It was difficult for me to be away from my fiancée and loved ones for the week. I faced those challenges and they grew harder and harder everyday, yet with everyday hope grew knowing that I would see her and my loved ones soon. We have that hope. We need to share that hope. I need to grow stronger. I need to Bear Witness.