Annual meetings with Israeli students in our school has been a tradition since 2013. They are part of the project called Preserving the Memory. The History and Culture of Two Nations, which is run under the auspices of the Centre for Education Development in Warsaw. Every visit is a joyous and memorable event for our high school and middle school students where they can get to know each other and establish possibly long-lasting relationships. It is all achieved through ice-breaking activities, sing-alongs, dancing as well as more serious workshops on the Holocaust. Polish-Israeli youth meetings are a wonderful chance for having fun together as well as an opportunity to gain insight into the common history of our two nations. We take care to stress the importance of remembering our shared past and the times when our nations co-existed on the Polish soil. It is essential for both sides to understand the complexities of history, to accept the state of being different and to respect cultural and religious uniqueness. We fully realize that those meetings make new history and facilitate breaking down barriers, stereotypes and prejudices. And finally, on top of that, hosting Israeli youth groups lends itself to using the English language for real communication.
An exciting extension to the above-mentioned project was another international initiative in which our high school students took part in 2018/2019. Re*act for Humanity is a collaborative project from One World Association of Poznan, Poland, and Caritas Pirckheimer House Academy of Nuremberg, Germany in association with Givat Haviva of Menashe, Israel. The project involved teenagers and teachers of four nationalities and various social, cultural and religious backgrounds who travelled to three countries (Israel, Germany and Poland) in order to taste local culture through hands-on experiences and participate in a series of workshops where they reflected on the issues of racism, hatred, humanitarian aid and moral courage. Particularly moving and meaningful were visits to the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem where the students investigated the lives of individuals who dared to offer help to Jews and Jewish families oppressed by the Nazis during the World War 2 and thus putting their own lives at risk. In recognition of their outstanding courage and compassion, they were awarded Israeli’s most honorable civilian’s honour The Righteous Among the Nations. Will those unforgettable accounts and stories inspire today’s youth to rise to challenges of contemporary times? Let us hope so.