Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Another successful year because of these folks (a few not pictured). THANK YOU to our faculty for their dedication and hard work. It was a fun evening reminiscing the past year. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Today our group spent a full day in Split, Croatia. Split is famous for its UNESCO World Heritage status and Roman Emperor Diocletian’s Palace that was featured in Game of Thrones.
After a busy week it was nice to relax and take in the sights and sounds of such a beautiful, vibrant city. Experiencing the history and culture of a country is important in our travels, and nobody seems to complain when that includes gelato!

After leaving Sisak yesterday we traveled southwest to Croatia’s first and largest national park: Plitvice Lakes. We spent all this morning exploring the beautiful, cascading waterfalls that bring more than a million tourists to the park each year. Nikola Tesla, who grew up in the area, deserves credit for helping to save this natural wonder from a hydroelectric dam project, and boy are we glad!

Visiting the stunning Brutalist memorial at the site of the Jasenovac concentration camp again today was a really welcome reminder of silence and sacredness and symbolism. I don’t know that I can imagine a higher calling for art than what Bogdan Bogdanovic fashioned in a quiet meadow along the River Sava which is the border between Croatia and Bosnia. Our students get a lot out of touring this memorial and learning about the tragic history that it represents.
I really liked these quotes I found on various information kiosks, so I wrote them down.
“The melancholic restressed concrete lotus not only stops evil thoughts on each end but it also has a cathartic power. It insults no one. It threatens no one. It does not encourage revenge yet it does not his the truth.” (Excerpt from a poem by the architect)
“It is difficult in any time of ideology to understand that there are people who do not belong to ideologies, who do not take sides, who carry their peace so deep inside that at one point it has to scream out in the form of art and beauty—like the one Bogdanovic created with his Flower. Why is Bogdanovic’s Flower of Jasenovac so memorable and miraculous? Because the very art is a dualism of the compatible and the incompatible, the cursed and holy, the beautiful and horrendous...and I believe, that with its metaphysical characteristics it leads a harmonious and peaceful dialogue with the victims of Jasenovac. After all, to them it belongs.”

Our final couple days of service here in Sisak, Croatia have been such a refreshing reminder of the unique energy we receive from our connections with others. Our students finished strong in the classrooms at Gymnazija and Technicka and this morning we got up early to volunteer at a local senior home. We brought our new student friends from Gymnazija as translators. It was altogether a very touching, meaningful morning from which we are all riding a high.
We will soon leave Sisak for Plitvice Lakes National Park, then on to the beautiful Dalmatian Coast. More soon!

Day 2 lesson plan: Anatomy of a crime, finger printing, constructing, launching CO2 powered cars and stress management.
If you love friends, you will serve your friends.
If you love community, you will serve your community.
If you love money, you will serve your money. 
And if you love only yourself, you will serve only yourself and you will have only yourself.
So instead, love others and serve others, and serve others, and hopefully find those who love and serve you in return.
~ Stephen Colbert

Jet lag didn’t stop this group from having a wonderful first day of service and taking a scenic (and rainy) boat ride through Sisak.