Alternative Spring Break

Poland - Reflecting on the Past

This experience will allow you to visit three different cities in Poland: Warsaw, Oświęcim, and Krakow. By beginning the program in Warsaw, you will not only dive deeper into the history of the Holocaust and gain insight into the events and decisions that led up to the Holocaust, but also learn about the significant role the Jewish community and culture played in pre-WWII Poland.

From Warsaw, you will travel directly to Oświęcim, the home of Auschwitz Concentration Camp, now a memorial and museum. In Oświęcim, participants will visit and tour the museum and grounds at Auschwitz, and have the unique opportunity to work with the preservation and archives team, assisting with cataloging, cleaning, and preserving the museum’s collection of artifacts.

In the final days of the program, we will travel to Krakow, the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland, and one of the leading centres of Polish academic, cultural, and artistic life. You will continue to visit sites important to Holocaust history; however, the focus for this portion of the experience will be on the revitalization of Jewish life and culture in Poland. You will have an opportunity to visit the Jewish Community Center (JCC), a relatively new center established in 2008 to serve the growing Jewish community in the city, and tour the Kazimierz district, the historically Jewish neighbourhood of Krakow that is now bustling with hip restaurants and coffee shops.

Please note: Service opportunities on this experience are primarily focused on education, preservation and remembrance. Former concentration camps in Poland have been turned into centres of historical learning, morning and remembrance. Honouring the last remaining Holocaust survivors and working to ensure the events of the Holocaust are never forgotten is an important and rare opportunity.

UN Sustainable Development Goal - Sustainable communities UN Sustainable Development Goals - Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies

Community Partners


Dates of Travel

Wednesday, May 1, 2019 - Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Participant Numbers

  • 9 Student Participants
  • 1 Student Team Leader
  • 2 Team Leaders

*Note: this experience can accommodate up to 14 participants (including team leaders), assuming airline seats are available; however, this may mean additional participants pay an increased fee (based on new flight prices). 


  • Visit three different cities in Poland: Warsaw, Oświęcim, and Krakow
  • Dive deeper into the history of the Holocaust and gain insight into the events and decisions that led up to the Holocaust
  • Work with the preservation and archives team at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum.
  • Tour the Kazimierz district, the historically Jewish neighborhood of Krakow to gain a better understanding of how the Jewish community in Poland is re-establishing themselves.

Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate the ability to explore ideas, issues, and global systems from viewpoints other than their own, through reflective practice, group discussions and program activities
  • Work under conditions of ambiguity or uncertainty by engaging with community partners, community members and working as a team
  • Demonstrate an understanding of intercultural competence, sensitivity and humility by completing pre-departure workshops, activities in OWL and the ASB Reflective Practice Workbook, and engaging in the 1-2 week community-based experience
  • Define the moral and ethical dilemmas facing both the victims and the bystanders in the Holocaust, and identify the lessons learned
  • Compare and contrast the dilemmas of diversity in modern Europe with what is happening in North America today
  • Describe and critically assess the characteristics of Polish and Jewish culture - past and present

Ideal Participant

Given the serious and intense nature of this program, all participants should be flexible, patient, open to a new culture, hard-working, and able to handle yourselves professionally in delicate community situations. Please understand that Poland has a very different culture, history, cuisine, climate, and language. This experience will cover difficult and unsettling topics and themes, and you will be asked to be present throughout the experience, and engaged in significant cultural and historical learning.


Total cost (subject to change) – $5,000 CAD

Costs include:

  • Flight
  • Registration and programs fees with Amizade
  • Contribution to the project and comprehensive on-site support
  • Insurance (health, flight cancellation, baggage)
  • Transportation to/from airport
  • Transportation in Poland
  • Accommodation
  • Meals
  • Administrative Fee (t shirt, team leader contribution, journal)

Note: ASB participants will be responsible for any luggage costs assigned by individual airlines, airport tax, souvenirs, or additional food/snacks during the trip.

Preliminary Itinerary

Day 1-2 Warsaw: You will fly into Warsaw and spend the next 2 days getting to know the City. You will start with a tour of old town. The following day, you will become acquainted with the city centre and tour the Warsaw Rising Museum and the Polin Museum, and conclude with a tour of the Jewish neighborhood in Warsaw and dinner at a local eatery.

Day 3 – Treblinka: You will start your morning off in Warsaw with a tour of the former ghetto and, in the afternoon, you will take a bus trip to Treblinka (former death camp).

Day 4 – Warsaw: You will start with breakfast at the hotel and then provide service at the Jewish cemetery. After lunch, you will meet with Polish activists who are working on the preservation of Jewish heritage, and conclude your day with dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 5-8 – Oswiecim: You will take a bus ride to Oswiecim where your group will stay at the Centre for Dialogue and Prayer. Your days in Oswiecim will be mixed with visits to the survivor’s art exhibition at Harmeze Monastery, the synagogue, and Oswiecim City centre. You will also be provided with a guided tour of Auschwitz II (Birkenau), as well as engage in community service with the Museum.

Day 9-11 – Krakow: It is here where you will check into the Hotel Campanile and start with a walking tour of Krakow and Wawel Hill. You will also participate in a meeting with the Jewish Community Centre of Krakow, a workshop at Galicia Museum, and visit Schindler’s Factory.

*PLEASE NOTE: this itinerary is draft, and subject to change at any time.


Accommodations in Poland will vary based on city. In Warsaw, your team will be saying at a local hotel (yet to be determined), in Oswiecim you will be staying at the Center for Dialogue and Prayer (CdiM), and in Krakow, you are booked in at Hotel Campanile. Please note that sleeping quarters are shared.


A variety of meals will be offered. Some meals will be provided on site, and some will be at local restaurants, and will reflect a variety of local foods.

All group meals on program days are included, and you will be responsible for any meals during travel days as well as personal snacks.

Need to Know

  • This experience does not involve travel through the USA.
  • You are responsible for ensuring that you have the required travel documents and travel visas necessary to participate in the experience.
  • If you require disability related accommodation, or have other special considerations, we encourage you to contact us before applying. We may require further information to determine how we can best meet your accommodation needs.