Brittany Ballantyne

Equinox Staff


School trips and programs are usually an educational experience; however, some students are said to take away much more than knowledge at the Holocaust Memorial Museum trip in Washington, D.C.

The Holocaust and genocide study program is putting on another trip to the museum Friday, March 2 through Sunday, March 4, which was open to all students to attend on a first-come-first-serve basis. There will be students from various majors, including science and social science majors, arts and humanities majors, professional and graduate studies, as well as undecided students.

“We start planning basically right after we get back from last year’s trip,” Michele Kuiawa, the senior program support assistant, said.

According to Kuiawa, this year a wait list was necessary. “This year’s pretty exciting because we filled up within two weeks, it’s a pretty popular trip and because it’s mentioned in classes and encouraged in classes for students to participate, it fills up pretty quickly,” Kuiawa said.

Kuiawa said that “the trip originated for anybody that was interested in going to the Holocaust Memorial Museum. It’s a world-wind of a trip, we go down Friday, Saturday we’re in the museum, and Sunday we’re home so it really is designed for students to spend some time at the Holocaust Memorial Museum and I think it’s important for lots of students to go, not only just because you’re involved and you’re taking a Holocaust and genocide studies class but it really translates to lots of things in life.”

Senior Steven LePage has been on the trip twice. “The first time I went on the trip, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t have much knowledge of the Holocaust,” he said.

“I was in Dr. Vincent’s Nazi Germany and the Holocaust class and that’s why I was going, and it made my world grow. It made me realize that there’s more to life than just the every day and that I guess I got a better appreciation for life in going the first time and ultimately it impacted me,” LePage said.

Freshman Meccah Hummell said while she did not make the list for the trip, she has already made a visit to the museum.

“They had replicas of gas chambers and stuff like that and if you pressed a button you could hear the people talking and telling their stories. I think that’s what got me the most, hearing their voices,” Hummell said.

She also said, “To look at their shoes and you can tell they’ve been worn by people is just sad to think that it happened to them, and they really didn’t do anything to deserve it,” when she recalled her first experience at the museum.

“I would’ve liked to go because being older I’d probably be able to remember it for a little longer,” Hummell said, explaining that she will try to go again the next time the chance rolls around.

“I think in the eighth grade, genocide isn’t something you fully understand,” Hummell said.

Hummell later explained that seeing the content in the museum and feeling sympathy for those in the Holocaust for even a short period of time is a good thing. “You really can’t imagine it, but the fact that it’s there for you to just have a visual is good.”

“I think it really does translate into lots of different aspects of your life, it’s not just the Holocaust, it’s not just genocides, it’s not just Rwanda,” Kuiawa said.

Kuiawa later said, “I mean everyday we hear stories about the inhumanity against each other, you know what I mean? And it’s heart-heavy to go, but it’s powerful, it makes you think. It makes you realize that you have the ability, your words matter. Words matter. What you say to people matters and it’s important for people to take that with them and say ‘be kind to each other.’”

LePage expressed that his second time visiting the museum was different. “I had far more knowledge and when I went through the museum, it was difficult but it was a good way to confront the material because I was able to really start to grasp some things that I thought I knew and realize that there’s more to them that I need to know,” he said.

“I learn more, and I pick up on things that I haven’t picked up on before and every time I constantly will walk away with far more questions than I had going into it,” LePage said.

Hummell said one thing students can learn from this trip is “that it’s real. And anybody can really say what they want. Like ‘Michael Jackson’s my brother.’ I could say that just as easily as I could say, ‘I killed an entire race of people.’ But when the evidence is right there, it’s like yeah, it happened and it’s real and it’s not a myth. It’s powerful.”

“I think going there for the first time has changed my trajectory in life forever, and it’s humbled me a lot,” LePage said on what he has taken away from the trip experience.

LePage explained what he hopes to take away during his next travels on the trip. “When I go there I try not to think about what I want to learn and what I want to notice or something. Usually the way I react to what I’m seeing and what I’m reading, how I feel. It varies. And it’s almost unpredictable but I think part of that is because so much of my life revolves around it that I constantly look at things from a different point of view,” he said.

“Genocide is definitely 100 percent preventable. Completely. And I think if we all do our part and just chipped in, I think that this whole world could be a better place but I think people are just too stubborn or too ignorant to realize it’s really a lot less effort to just be nice and get a long than it is to waste your time holding a grudge or, like, why are you going to go out of your way to kill a bunch of people that have never done anything to you? That’s a process,” Hummell said.

Kuiawa said entering and exploring the museum, “You’re faced with that mortality and that humanity that we have with each other but I think you do leave with a sense of empowerment that you can make a difference. If you see somebody bullying you can step in if you see something that you know, just shouldn’t happen. I mean just the way students treat each other on campus you can step in and say, ‘Hey, that’s not cool.’ You really do have the power to be able to do that.”

LePage said, in his reasoning for why people should attend this trip, “This trip is something that I think everyone should go on because it is different and the difference that it has from most other trips is that it doesn’t have to be an educational thing. It’s more of a humanitarian/social/historical thing. It’s something that everyone should see. It’s not necessarily field specific or whatever you would be going on another one [trip] for.”

LePage said, “If it’s their [students] first time [visiting] I hope…I hope they understand or at least start to understand the reality of the evil that exists in this world and hopefully they feel motivated to just do something. It doesn’t have to be much, it could be you know just even smiling at somebody else because that can make anybody’s day better and just care for others.”


Brittany Ballantyne can be contacted at





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