Final Day in Sosnowiec

Final Day in Sosnoviec and Będzin 

This was a very long but wonderful day as we served the community and the church.  It began last night with preparing foods for the dinner that we would host at the church tonight (more about that later).  Then we drove to “American Day in Norwid”.  Norwid is an inner city high school in Będzin named after the last of Poland’s Romantic poets.  When we arrived at the school, we were greeted by the principal and ushered in to the gym where they had already set up booths for the four states that our group was to represent to give the students a picture of America – Massachusetts, “Carolina” (North and South!), California, and, of course, O-H-I-O!!!  The rest of the school was set up similarly for other things – German class, music class, history, etc.  We learned that they used today as a recruitment day for middle school students who might be interested in attending the school next year.  In this city, students choose which of four schools they go to, and competition between the schools is fierce because there has been a significant loss of population due to emigration and a declining birth rate.  Our job was to engage students in conversational English.  Meanwhile, Iris (who is from Germany) was doing the same thing in the German class.  Each of us was paired with a Norwid English student who could talk to the middle school students in Polish as well as English.  We brought materials and gifts to give to the students – Malone pencils, lanyards,  stickers, and – for the Ohio booth – a hundred buckeye chocolates.  At first, no one would take the gifts.  Then Asia told us that it is impolite to accept anything unless you offer it at least two or three times.  Sure enough, if you offer a buckeye once, the answer is usually “no thank you”, but by the third offer it is, “Okay, thank you very much!”  The school was prepared for 85 middle school students based on their RSVP.  By the end of the day, we had hosted 250 students in four hours!  Several of us exchanged e-mail and face book addresses with our student-hosts.  At the end of the day, there was a drawing for Malone t-shirts and sweatshirts, so there are now eight Pioneer-attired teenagers running around Będzin!

After we left the school, we took an hour to walk to a castle that is nearly 675 years old.  We learned the sad history that the town had a population that was 60% Jewish prior to World War II.  Most of the Jewish inhabitants “disappeared”, the majority ending up in the Nazi concentration camps.  After the War, the communists sought to repress this history, creating a new four-lane road through the Jewish quarter.  The Jewish cemetery has been heavily vandalized, and now sits among an overgrown forested area beneath the castle.  This, of course, is a small taste of what we will experience tomorrow at Aushwitz.

We then returned to the church and furiously prepared “American Dinner”!  We made a huge plate of Macaroni and Cheese, hot dogs (but really good Polish ones!), soft tacos with all the fixings, fried mushrooms, green beans with bacon, and brownies with ice cream.  We had no idea how many people would show up, but it ended up being a large crowd – the church youth group, people that they invited, and even some students from Norwid!  What began a bit awkwardly ended up being a hugely successful and fun outreach event for the church.  We played games, talked, ate, and laughed a lot.  Dr. E. was the one who wanted to make fried mushrooms (Poles love mushrooms!), but we had a problem with some of the ingredients, and the directions he gave ended up being misinterpreted (while he was making something else), so the result was more like mushrooms-sautéed-in-butter-with-a-thick-buttery-gravy.  This was the only dish that was completely devoured, and we have requests to send the recipe by e-mail!  (Hmmm.  Do we send the real recipe, or the messed-up version?)

We finished cleaning up about 9:00, debriefed from the day, shared a prayer, and are now getting ready to turn in.  Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.  Having done a trip to Auschwitz three times before, I know that tomorrow will be a difficult day.  Also, we are all tired, and a few of us are physically worn down a bit.  As always, thank you for your prayers, your interest, and your support.

Dr. E. (for the team)

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