Alumni Reflection, Juliana Bentel, South Africa, 2017

Poland is a sad city because the people living there every day have to wake up mindful of the past (the ones that acknowledge the past). They carry this heavy burden on their shoulders day by day.

That cold day we visited a mass grave of children, women and men that were shot in the forest by the SS. We saw the holes dug to bury these poor soles.

We walked in the forest and saw the graves. It was tough, but I didn’t cry. I couldn’t wrap my head around it all. I guess it was too much for my young brain to absorb and process. I just acknowledged their lives that they lost and realized I’m still here and can make a difference . They are dead, there is nothing that can be done, (as harsh as it sounds) but we, who are present must inherit their lives and dreams into our own lives and dreams, and live life to the fullest in their memory because they couldn’t and we can.

The scary thing is that, we walked into the forest just like them, except we walked out the forest and returned to our daily privileged lives, and for them- that was the end; they didn’t walk again, they stayed.

– Written by Juliana Bentel, March of the Living South Africa, 2017

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