The chronicle of a teacher’s journey: from Cape Cod to Terezin
By Rachel Ollagnon
I had begun teaching at an IB school in the United States for the first time after living overseas most of my adult life. When I met my new theatre colleagues, I told them about my ISTA and TaPS experiences and suggested our school join. They enthusiastically agreed and now, more than ten years later, are still involved.
We registered for our first TaPS in New York and then the following year to travel to Terezin. I had taken students to Terezin several years before from my school in Moscow but coming from the United States would be an even greater journey – both physically and spiritually.
My colleague and I were travelling internationally with several students who had never been outside the United States. We had one whose grandfather was a Holocaust survivor, making the journey to understand the tattooed number on his arm and why he died still refusing to tell any part of his story. We had one student whose name was Hannah who, in front of the wall of names, seeing so many young Hannahs who had been murdered, felt like she now knew how to honour her name. In Terezin, the tears flow and flow, but so does the creativity and the power of art.
Saying that the Terezin experience is worthwhile, no matter how hard it might be to get there, does not say enough. For those who have attended the Terezin festival, it is not hyperbole to say that words cannot describe it. The experience shakes your soul and refocuses your heart.