South Plainfield High School, South Plainfield, New Jersey
Kean University, Union, New Jersey
Union County College, Plainfield, New Jersey
2012 Study Tour Participant
I began preparing for the 2012 ALPHA Peace and Reconciliation Study Tour by reading articles and books which taught me what I would see and hear when I arrived in Asia. Because my knowledge of pre-World War II history was Euro-centered, I acquired background information about the events, places, and people that I would later witness in person.
The groups of teachers that I traveled with were diverse in their teaching experience, cultural backgrounds, and historical knowledge, but all were dedicated professionals. The professors who lectured during the tour were distinguished researchers in their fields.
What touched my heart most was meeting the survivors who suffered the atrocities of World War II: the comfort women who were forced into sexual slavery, a labor camp survivor, two men burned by chemical bombs while digging at a construction site, and a man who managed as a young boy to survive under the protection of John Rabe in the International Safety Zone in Nanjing. I learned so much by visiting the sites where hundreds of thousands of people were massacred, biological warfare experiments were conducted, and women were sexually exploited against their will.
World War II has taken on an entirely new meaning for me. I will never forget what I personally witnessed in China, South Korea, and Hong Kong. I am grateful to NJ-ALPHA for providing this educational opportunity for me. Now it is my desire and responsibility to continue learning more about the atrocities that took place in Asia in World War II and to pass that knowledge on to my students.