First day of MTF Training…

So today was the first day of my Museum Teacher’s Fellowship Training.  This is what I came for  – what I’ve been waiting for.  I was pretty excited when the alarm went off at 530am this morning.  My room mate and I decided that we would go for a run in the morning.  I was so happy that she would be willing to run with me and so early in the morning.  So – we hit the road by 6am and basically ran a loop around the neighborhood that we are staying in.  We ran for about 30 minutes and it ended up being just under 3 miles.  I was pleased to get something in and it’s so fun running in the city.  The major difference form running at home – lots of starts and stops because of traffic lights!  It was great though – got it in and back to the hotel to get ready for the day.  Also – the weather was absolutely perfect for running.  It was actually a bit chilly and almost no humidity…even a nice breeze.  I hope it’s like that in the mornings all week!

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Post run in the big city!!  Good times!

With the run behind us – we had plenty of time to get ready for the day.  Having a room mate is actually pretty great.  I think that we are keeping each other on task and schedule.  We bother were able to shower, dress, and get ready to hit the lobby and check out the continental breakfast by 730am.  We both decided that the breakfast was a bit of a bust.  They did have some hard boiled eggs.  However – I didn’t really feel like paying $14 for a hard boiled egg.  They did not have any other protein options.  Well, they had some yogurt…but, still, not too much going on.  We opted to just stop at a Starbucks on our way to the Museum.

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Found this beauty on CLEARANCE at Old Navy – it was $8.00 #winning  And yes, these flip flops (LLBeans) are my walking shoes!

Lauren and I decided that we would walk to the Museum.  Google Maps said it was about a 25-30 minutes walk.  Why not?  There is a lot to see and check out and really 30 minutes is not a big deal and like I mentioned – it was a beautiful morning.  We fired up the Google Map and hit the road.  I had made my iced coffee in the hotel room but I did need to pick up some breakfast.  We stopped at one of the thousands Starbucks on the way and I got a egg white, turkey bacon, and gouda sandwich on an English Muffin.  I also got 2 pumps of sugar free Cinnamon Dolce syrup in my iced coffee – it was perfect!  I  saved the sandwich for when we got to the Museum.  The Museum also offered a continental breakfast – but they had zero protein options!  Glad we stopped.  I ate the egg white, cheese, and turkey bacon and threw out the English Muffin.  It was a good breakfast.

Right before you hit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum you walk by the Washington Monument.  Obviously we had to stop for a photo-op!!  We made it to the Museum a bit early and waited to be met by our group leader.  We were brought in and taken down to the classrooms which are on the lower level of the Museum.

Today was about figuring out who we all are and getting to know each other.  It was also about trying to understand why we are teaching Holocaust and how we teach it.  Most of the group participated in the Belfer Conference.  This conference is an educational opportunity for English and Social Studies teachers to learn the basic guidelines of teaching about the Holocaust at the museum.  I attended the Social Studies Belfer in 2015.  A lot of what we did today was a review of a lot of that material.

One thing the Museum stresses is these important fundamental guidelines for teaching the Holocaust.  They offer a lot of information, insight, and contextual knowledge.  Today wasn’t so much emotionally intense as it was academically intense.  We received a lot of information and I took a ton of notes.  One particular segment that stuck with me all day was a short video that we watched featuring Ben Ferencz.  He was a solider during WWII and after the war became the lead prosecutor of the Nuremberg trials.  Amazing man and incredible story – he is a watcher of the sky…I hope to be one too.

https://www.facinghistory.org/resource-library/video/benjamin-ferencz-watcher-sky

Another aspect of our studies today was exploring the 4th floor of the permanent exhibit.  If you’ve never been to the USHMM – the way the exhibit works is you get an elevator on the first floor and travel to the 4th and work your way back down.  The 4th floor is basically about how Hitler and the Nazi Regime slowly creep their way into power starting in 1933.  It covers propaganda, racial science, antisemitism and many other topics.  It was very interesting exploring it again today after the considering the insight and context we learned in the morning and afternoon sessions.

There were two major take-aways from the 4th floor for me today.  I teach about the Evian Conference – which is something that blows me away every time I think about it.  Here it’s called the “Useless Conference” – good name for it.  Basically what happened was 32 different nations met in July 1938 to discuss what to do about the current Jewish refugee problem.  Almost all of these countries – USA, France, Great Britain, Canada, Australia – to name a few – agreed that there was an issue and that the refugees needed a place to go….BUT….it wasn’t going to be their country.  Some would let in a few here and there…but no one was willing to take in large amount.  There was ONE nation, however, that stepped up to the plate big time – this nation was none other than the small island nation of the Dominican Republic.  They took in about 100,000 Jews – Imagine!!  Thank you Dominican Republic!

The second photo above is a young Nazi Brown Shirt and he is wearing a sandwich board.  The board reads: “Germans defend yourselves against Jewish atrocity propaganda – Buy only at German shops!”  If you’ll notice – the board is written in German AND English.  They aren’t even trying to hide their antisemitism.  These boards were mass produced and worn by various members of the Nazi ground forces during the massive boycott of Jewish businesses and goods.  It’s something that I didn’t even notice at first – it’s right there for the world to see and translate.  Incredible.

We had a nice lunch in one of the classrooms – I brought my own because I wasn’t sure what they would be providing.  they had salad and grilled chicken breast and some veggie wraps.  I took some salad – but I brought a tuna pouch, goat cheese, and a cracker.  I was full and satisfied.  I also didn’t feel too awkward hauling out my own lunch…I have to take care of myself and that’s what I did!  They also offered a snack time – I brought my own yogurt, some nuts, and a scoop of almond butter.  It really hit the spot.

The last portion of our day was a walking tour of some memorials, museums, and historical sites.  The focus was to understand why and how things become memorials, the significance of placement of museums, and what importance historical sites play.  It was pretty cool.  We checked out some interesting history of the Tidal Basin and then walked over to the Jefferson Memorial.  There is just so much history in DC…it’s a #historygeeks dream!

Here I an with good old Thomas Jefferson!!  Such a cool monument and a couple secrets!!

The last order of business was dinner together as a group at The Old Ebbitt Grill.  The place was HUGE and super busy.  Laura and I and a few other in our group decided to walk to the restaurant for dinner.  It was about  25 minute walk and after pretty much sitting all day – it was just what the doctor and my Fitbit ordered.  It was also the perfect evening for a walk – it wasn’t overly hot or humid and well worth it.  The food was so good!  Laura and I split the hummus plate for an appetizer.  This was incredible.  I also loved how they served it with thin long cucumber slices so I could have my hummus on that instead of the traditional pita.  There were three different Hummus options – one tastier than the next.  For my main course I had perfectly cooked Halibut over spring veggies.  It was delightful.  I also helped myself to a Red Wine Sangria cocktail.  I only drank half – but it was mighty tasty!!

Here is our table from tonight’s meal.  We had two large tables – as we are about 25 people total.  The two fellas on the end of our table also walked over to the restaurant with us and walked back to the hotel with us after.  I have over 21,000 steps today!

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Planning on finishing up some homework that we have to do tonight and getting a good nights sleep.  We are going to run again in the morning and I am looking forward to it!

Looking over tomorrows agenda – looks a little more emotional intense than today’s workshops.  I am so looking forward to it.

That’s all from our Nation’s Capital!  Thanks for checking in!

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