W is for Warsaw

Sophomore year of high school was in a new school in a new country. I spent most of the first few months there sulking and stubbornly trying not to like it. But slowly my attitude changed and I started saying yes instead of no to the opportunities and friends that were all around me. One of my first adventures that year was to Warsaw, Poland with ISTA- the theater program I talked about here.
(taken from my yearbook)
This trip was a lot different from the one in Terezin. Instead of staying "on-site" in a concentration camp, we were comfortably housed with families from the American School of Warsaw-where the program was hosted.  That was probably one of the "perks" of going to an International School. Whenever any of the sports teams traveled for competitions they were housed by the families of the host school. Our family hosted some boys from the Brussels soccer team one year and it was so fun. Since I never played any team sports in High School, I was excited to experience this from the other side.

This entire city was touched by World War II and we visited many of the memorials that honored the city's resistance to the Nazi occupation and the damage it caused. Below is the Warsaw Uprising Memorial and the Little Insurgent Monument.  
What I mostly remember from this trip is how grey and snowy it was- which was pretty much exactly how I imagined Poland would look. But beneath the cold, Poland's landscape held a lot of stories. Our goal for this festival was to find out what the city wanted us to learn from it, and then with our ensemble groups, find a creative and original way to share those narratives with an audience.
I hardly knew the people I traveled with from my school and I was the only student from my grade there. But I don't remember feeling out of place or alone. That is definitely the greatest gift of the international school community. New students arrived every year and you didn't have time to be exclusive or choosey. I learned to form friendships fast knowing they could be gone at the end of the year. That was everyone's common ground.  Looking back on that trip I feel like I was braver than I knew. These days would I have the guts to go by myself, stay in a stranger's house, and then stand on stage in a foreign country with people I'd just met?  I'm glad I have my memories of Poland, and the ISTA Festival that brought me there, to remind me of what I am capable of doing. 


  1. I know exactly what you mean - sometimes I look back at what I did when I was 15 and 16 and wonder how I did it - but I did!

  2. Looks like an amazing place. Love your new blog look! Have a great weekend!

  3. This sounds like an amazing experience. It obviously left an impact on you, and I know I'm got chills it.

    On a more pleasant note, I love all your A-Z posts! I know I consider myself well-traveled but just looking through your posts makes me a little jealous.

    And just letting you know, I'm stopping by from Kelly's Korner!

  4. Your trip to Poland reminded me what I'm capable of doing too : )


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