Raritan High School, Hazlet, New Jersey
2008 China Study Tour Participant
I began this experience with the expectation that I would enhance my understanding of the cultural and historical background of China during the Asia-Pacific War as the program brochure stated. I came away with knowledge, but the experiences that I had in Shanghai, Nanking and Changde were emotional, and the scholars, eyewitnesses and survivors were inspirational. The personal stories of survivors make an impact that history books cannot, and I am now able to bring the stories and images to my students.
The trip was well planned, and our hosts could not have been more accommodating and hospitable. We were welcomed at universities, museums and hotels by our hosts in each city. Now that I am home, I have a network of educators who are continuing to address the critical issues related to the Japanese atrocities against the Chinese from 1931 to 1945. The call for an acknowledgment of the crimes committed by the Japanese, an apology for the victims, and compensation for slave labor are included in issues that are being addressed today.
I made many connections to the events of the holocaust and other genocides. It reminded me that we are all involved in the human experience and no one people is alone in their suffering. The stories of the victims, perpetrators, rescuers and bystanders in Nanking reverberate in the stories of participants in other genocides. I am inspired to speak out about past and present atrocities and call for justice.