Poland

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Editor’s Note: Holocaust survivor Max Glauben of Dallas will speak at 8:15 p.m. Friday night at Texas Hillel, 2105 Nueces. 

Friday, if you choose, you will have the privilege to hear from Max Glauben. It is a privilege that your children will not have. And it is an experience for which appreciation only grows as time passes.

I first met Max Glauben in 2009, during my senior year of high school, when I traveled on the March of the Living, a two-week trip to Poland and Israel during which students from all over the world study the history of the Holocaust and examine the roots of prejudice, intolerance and hate. Many of the student groups that go on the trip are accompanied by Holocaust survivors. My group was lucky enough to travel with Max.

Max was born in Poland, and survived unfathomable, twisted horrors in the Holocaust. On Friday, he will give you a glimpse of what he endured.

Every year, Max travels with a group of students back to the place of his nightmares. He guides them through the concentration camps, and comforts them when they break down, seeing first-hand just how low humanity can sink. He remains positive and stays strong when revisiting the places where the Nazis brutally murdered millions of his people. As we journeyed through Poland, Max calmed us, educated us and inspired us. He was our rock.

The trip affected everyone differently, but it unquestionably affected everyone significantly. For me, walking through Poland rendered me emotionally numb. The journal I purchased for the trip kept its crisp edges; I found myself unable to write, despite an unbearable desire to pour everything onto the pages. 

The last camp that we visited was Majdanek. The adjectives expansive, massive and vast do not do it justice, nor do they explain the magnitude of confusion, disgust and utter disbelief that overwhelmed me when I tried to take in this killing factory less than a mile from the major city of Lublin. I stood by Max’s side as we walked through.

Max told us stories that shook us to the core. We saw meticulous records kept by the Nazis, intended for a museum of the “extinct Jewish race” when the war was over. We walked through a barrack filled only with victims’ shoes, touching soles of souls who did not make it out of the camp alive.

After a while, we found ourselves at the entrance to the crematorium. There, the remains of the victims who were gassed were brought in by wheelbarrow and shoved into ovens so that they could be burned. There, the Nazis murdered Max’s entire family. And, there, I broke down and cried.

The first tear fell down my face just moments after seeing Max’s own tears. This was not the first time Max’s cheery demeanor had been clouded by resurfacing memories, but this time was different. Tears racing down his face, but voice sturdy and purposeful, Max began saying kaddish, a Jewish prayer, for his loved ones. He was saying kaddish for his father, for his mother, for his brother. Max was saying kaddish for his family members whose bodies were burned at that very spot. Max was the only one from his family who survived the Holocaust.

I could not stop crying. None of us could, because trying to maintain control when you’re faced with something so heart-rending simply is not possible.

But what I learned from Max is that it is possible to move on.

Max, who lived through horrors that I am still unable to comprehend, is the most positive person I know. His attitude puts everything into perspective — how can I complain about that surplus homework when I have the privilege of a college education? How can I whine about obligatory family events when I have my family to share these milestones with? Max has taught me to appreciate everything, and he continues to teach me to live life. When I first called him about coming here, I was met with a voicemail. Max called me back at 10:30 that Sunday night with an apology. “Sorry for just getting back to you, but I’ve been in Michigan all weekend visiting my granddaughter who goes there. I would love to come to UT.” I have friends my age who don’t want me calling that late, but Max doesn’t miss opportunities. He’s a young 86 who is constantly on the go and does not accept limitations. 

Max has taught me more things than can fit in a single article, but the one that resonates the most is his motto, “Be an upstander, not a bystander.”

An upstander — someone who, when witnessing injustice, does everything in their power to right the wrong. An upstander is someone who feels responsible for the rest of humanity, and strives to solve society’s biggest problems. As Longhorns, upstanders are exactly what we strive to be.

I encourage you to come to Texas Hillel Friday at 8:15 to hear Max speak. Twenty-three current Longhorns have had the privilege to travel with him, and dozens more have had the privilege of hearing him speak in the past. All of us will be there to learn from him again then. I invite you to join us and I guarantee that you will not regret it.

Powerlifting

Linguistics graduate student Jörn Klinger powerlifts at Gregory Gym Tuesday evening. The Longhorn Powerlifting team includes two world record holders who performed at the 2012 IPF Junior World Championship in Poland.

Photo Credit: Fanny Trang | Daily Texan Staff

At the back of the public weight room at Gregory Gym is a small, windowless room with a small sign that reads “Powerlifting.” The Longhorn Powerlifting team, while not a Division I athletic team, stays active and lifting through the efforts of volunteer coaches and motivated students.

Texas boasts superb powerlifting talent, especially in the muscles of psychology sophomore Ian Bell and exercise science junior Preston Turner. The two are roommates, and Texas knows how good roommates can be: Both hold several state, national and international titles, plus a couple of world records in their respective weight classes.

Turner hails from Victoria, Texas, where he excelled in many different sports in high school, including baseball and football. As a freshman, he began powerlifting and was hooked. According to Turner, lifting is big in Texas high schools, because it is a way to stay in shape during the football offseason. As a senior he was recruited to play football by several smaller schools but decided to come to Texas and focus on lifting.

“It is really for the love of the sport,” Turner said. “It’s highly addicting.”

Turner and Bell have both been around the world for powerlifting, including to the Czech Republic, Canada and Poland.

At the 2012 IPF Junior World Championships in Szczyrk, Poland, both Turner and Bell set world records. Turner set a record on the bench press with a lift on 684 lbs, which is not his personal best. His personal best of around 700 lbs came at a bench press-only competition rather than a full meet.

“It’s definitely a lot of dedication, because you can’t get back the days you missed,” Turner said. “It’s not about coming in and maxing out everyday; it’s about working through a plan.”

Bell comes from a powerlifting background. His father, Gene Bell, who has a couple of world titles under his belt, was a huge motivating force in Bell’s career as both a trainer and a role model. Bell started when he was 13, wanting to follow in the family footsteps.

Like Turner, Bell holds a couple of world records, including one in deadlift for his weight class, a record he set when he traveled with Turner to Poland earlier this year. His personal best is a deadlift of 810 lbs achieved at the GNC International PRO Deadlift Competition.

Despite everyone competing individually, powerlifting in college is not like it is in high school.

“We focus on team here because powerlifting in college is a team sport,” Bell said. “We are always encouraging each other, trying to make each other better.”

Since it’s not a Division I sport, most of the lifters have lives outside of the weight room, including demanding majors that require a lot of time management.

“School always comes first,” Turner said. “But I think it’s healthy to come in here and throw around some big weights, especially during a stressful week.”

Even if some are not at the top of the class or into the intense competitions like Turner and Bell, some people find advantages to participating in powerlifting.

“I think being strong is a really sexy trait, whether it be mentally or physically,” psychology junior Ploy Buraparate said.

Several women have found a home among the Texas powerlifting team, denying the stigma that weightlifting is only for men.

“It is kind of intimidating, but at the same time there is just a lot of camaraderie,” Natalie Escareno, an English and communication science and disorders senior, said. “It is fun. The one thing I love about this sport is that it is about how much you train, how much effort you put into it.”

Escareno said powerlifting is 100 percent different compared to bodybuilding, and women should not be afraid of joining.

“We are always looking for girls,” Escareno said. “There is always this misconception that this is bodybuilding, but it’s not. We are as girly as can be.”

The team is led by Turner and Bell, along with economics senior Austin DeShane, who is the president of the group. Their current unofficial coach is stepping down as he completes his schooling to join the workforce.

“We are working together to coach the team and all the new guys,” DeShane said. “It’s a team dynamic where everybody’s got your back, everybody’s looking out for each other.”

Printed on Friday, October 5, 2012 as: Athletes working for love of lifting

Dzagoev, Krohn-Dehli, Mandzukic and Shevchenko are names even some of the greatest soccer fans will struggle to pronounce, but as the lights dim on the first round of group play in the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship, they will be the names remembered for their opening round performances.

The tournament, comprised of 16 of Europe’s best footballing nations, kicked off at National Stadium in Warsaw as Poland, co-hosts of the tournament, took on defensive-minded Greece this past Friday.

Poland’s substitute goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton was called into action after Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was sent off for bringing down Greek goalscorer Dimitris Salpingidis in a last-ditch effort to prevent a goal.

Tyton performed admirably when called upon and saved the penalty to hold ten-man Greece to a 1-1 draw and ensure a dramatic start to Euro 2012.

Following the draw, Russia, a semi-finalist at Euro 2008, dominated a Czech side found lacking in attack.

Alan Dzagoev, Russian wunderkind, scored two goals in a 4-1 win that further justifies the transfer rumors linking him to Manchester United and Real Madrid. Russian captain Andrey Arshavin also picked up two assists in the match.

Group B started off with a giant upset. Denmark shocked tournament favorite Netherlands after Brondby winger Michael Krohn-Dehli struck a precise, low-angled shot through the legs of Dutch goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg for a 24th minute goal. From there on, Daniel Agger and the rest of the Danish defense played well, frustrating the Dutch attack and not giving up any goals for a 1-0 victory.

At Arena Lviv in Ukraine, Germany and Portugal faced off in a timid affair excluding a Mario Gomez header in the 72nd minute that broke the silence. Portugal left the game noticeably frustrated with the 1-0 loss after hitting the woodwork twice. Portugal would earn three points in their second match against Denmark, thanks to a screaming strike from Silvestre Varela in the 87th minute of a 2-2 game. Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo failed to connect on multiple chances inside the 18-yard box, and critics worldwide have begun to question his work ethic with the national team.

In a battle of past World Cup champions, Spain and Italy drew 1-1 as goals by Antonio Di Natale and Cesc Fabregas cancelled each other out. Italy played a disciplined game utilizing a three-man defense that troubled Spain. Elsewhere, Wolfsburg striker Mario Mandzukic sent Croatia to the top of Group C after scoring a brace in a 3-1 victory over Ireland.

The opening game of group D then kicked off on Monday with two strong sides looking to impose themselves in the tournament. Joleon Lescott rose highest to head in a curling free kick courtesy of Liverpool and England captain Steven Gerrard and gave the three lions a lead. Samir Nasri then leveled the score for France with a low, fast shot just out of the reach of keeper Joe Hart. Both sides left happy with a point gained from the 1-1 draw.

As the first weekend of play came to an end, few could predict the performance of 35 year-old Andriy Shevchenko. Shevchenko, whose first international game was in 1995, turned back the years and silenced the critics who called his selection nostalgic with two well struck headers that took co-hosts Ukraine to a 2-1 win over Sweden.

As Euro 2012 continues, the next batch of games holds some rather enticing matchups. Spain will face Ireland on June 14 to try to get their title defense back on track. A group D grudge match then follows on the 15th as England takes on Sweden, who have yet to lose in a competitive fixture to England in a record lasting more than 40 years.

Normandy images courtesy of National Archives USA

Photo Credit: Shea Carley | Daily Texan Staff

A trip to Majdanek, a Nazi concentration camp in Poland, made a lasting impact on Plan II sophomore Daley Epstein. Two years later, Epstein distinctly remembers standing at the camp during a trip she took for March of the Living, an educational program that brings students from around the world to Poland to see the remnants of the Holocaust.

Because of her experience listening to Holocaust survivors tell her about the loss of life they witnessed first-hand while in Poland, Epstein, a former Daily Texan columnist, decided to apply to the Department of History’s Normandy Scholar Program on World War II. The program focuses on World War II curriculum, and Epstein hoped to expand her knowledge beyond her Jewish lens.

“My reoccurring theme with both World War II and the Holocaust itself is the more I know the less I understand,” Epstein said. “To this day, after traveling to Poland, I’m still baffled that the human race can sink so low.”

The 20 participating students spend the semester in courses focused on World War II and will travel to London, Normandy, Paris and Berlin with their professors from May 8 to 29.

The Normandy Scholar Program began in the fall of 1989 to test out the level of interest students and faculty had in learning the causes, conduct and consequences of World War II. The program has since evolved into a spring semester program with the opportunity to witness firsthand the lessons taught in the classroom in Europe.

“Whatever background you come into the program with, we all very quickly got on the same page,” said Josh Fuller, history and philosophy sophomore. “I don’t know if we’re experts now, but we definitely all know a lot.”

The program consists of five lecture classes with heavy discussion and writing components. Additionally, students are required to attend a three-hour film screening Monday nights and guest lectures on Wednesdays ranging from speakers including Holocaust survivors and World War II experts.

Each professor structures the class from the buildup of World War I through the conclusion of World War II, with students seated in “Normandy formation,” a horseshoe arrangement of desks to facilitate discussion.

“Being Jewish doesn’t help you understand World War II. I don’t want to say it was a hindrance, but it gave me a very isolated perspective of something far bigger than the Holocaust,” Epstein said. “My knowledge was focused on my lineage, so I never really understood what was going on in Japan or Russia.”

The students said that traveling abroad to the sites they read about for the past 14 weeks will solidify their knowledge and give them an opportunity to see what they have both heard and read. The five professors of the Normandy classes will travel with the students to Europe, teaching them from their own specialized area of expertise from “Hitler, Nazism and the Second World War” to a “France in Modern Times” class.

“It’s being in the same place where history took place that we’re all excited for,” Fuller said. “We’re not going to be tourists; we’re going to be amateur academics.”

The students think of the trip as a reward of sorts after the labor-intensive semester they complete this Friday.

“The semester is very challenging. There’s no off; it’s like we’re in grad school,” Fuller said.

Throughout the semester, students in the program read long excerpts from over 24 books, read an average of 800 pages every week and in many cases slept minimally as they strove to keep up with their papers. They took no tests, focusing instead on essays with a few quizzes.

Government sophomore Caroline Corcoran said she appreciated the opportunity to enjoy what they were learning, rather than always being tested. She developed her passion for understanding World War II after she received an American Girl doll in the fourth grade that embodied an American girl living in the U.S. during the 1940s.

She said that before the program, her knowledge of the war was limited to what was published in the U.S., which left her with less understanding of events outside of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the liberation of concentration camps.

“Learning about the war makes it so much more real. We’re slowly losing the survivors. It makes it more meaningful to hear from them,” Corcoran said.

As the semester winds down, the students have realized that after a combined 20 hours of in-class instruction, they still have much more to learn about the history behind World War II and reasons to promote continued education of world history.

“It gives you something to talk about with the generation that lived it,” Corcoran said. “No matter where they were in the world at the time. Learning about the past shows you’re still interested in what they did.”

Update on 4/25/12 at 10:18 a.m.: Clarified that Majdanek was a Nazi concentration camp in Poland.

SZCZECHOCINY, Poland — Two trains running on the same track collided head-on in southern Poland in a shower of sparks, killing 16 people and injuring 58 in the country’s worst train disaster in more than 20 years.

The crash near Krakow turned cars at the front of each train into heaps of mangled metal and toppled others on their sides. Neighbors in the town of Szczechociny alerted by what they said sounded like a bomb rushed to the scene to smash open windows, and survivors emerged in a state of shock, many crying out for help and carrying baggage.

One of the trains was on the wrong track. Maintenance work was being done on the tracks before the accident, but officials said it’s too early to determine the cause of the disaster.

WARSAW, Poland — Poland on Thursday signed an international copyright agreement which has sparked days of protests by Internet users who fear it will lead to online censorship.

Poland’s ambassador to Japan, Jadwiga Rodowicz-Czechowska, signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA, in Tokyo, she told the all-news station TVN24.

Later in the day, hundreds of people took to the streets of the eastern city of Lublin to express their anger over the treaty.

ACTA is a far-reaching agreement that aims to harmonize international standards on protecting the rights of those who produce music, movies, pharmaceuticals, fashion, and a range of other products that often fall victim to intellectual property theft.

It shares some similarities with the hotly debated Stop Online Piracy Act in the U.S., which was shelved by lawmakers last week after Wikipedia and Google blacked out or partially obscured their websites for a day in protest.
 

The National Science Foundation awarded $1.4 million in grants to three universities, including UT, to study the impacts of technology on occupations.

UT has appointed a principal investigator, Diane Bailey, an associate professor in the School of Information, to travel to different countries and gather data on how technology has enabled people living in remote areas of the world to acquire skills needed for professional occupations such as banking, engineering, entrepreneurship and graphic design.

According to the study, the focus is to understand how companies are using technology to train people to do jobs without direct social interaction.

“The way people learn [to do a job] is to be with people who have that job already,” Bailey said. “One of the things we suspect is that this new mode of learning allows a certain amount of leeway that one wouldn’t see in traditional occupational socialization.”

The grant will be split between UT, the University of California, Irvine and Northwestern University to carry out similar research projects around the world. The money will pay for travel between the United States, Brazil, Poland, Mexico and India, and it will also cover costs including office space and pay for graduate student hired to assist with research, Bailey said.

“Any time you get a grant, it’s a great day,” Bailey said. “It’s an opportunity for us to do exciting research.”

Bailey will collect data on Brazilian bankers, she said.

Technology has made it possible for anybody to get training to become a banker where it may not have been possible before, Bailey said. With more local banks around now, she said residents don’t have to travel to cities to cash their checks and spend money.

“Because people [were] spending their money in the city where their bank [was], they weren’t spending as much in the towns where they live,” Bailey said.

“One positive outcome for the community is a financial resurgence because of the correspondent model,” Bailey said.
Andrew Dillon, Dean of the School of Information, said the NSF grant recognizes the importance of information science in relation to the workplace.

“The right technology fosters connections between groups that allows for rapid organization and exchange of ideas without concern for distance,” Dillon said. “But with this comes unforeseen problems and challenges that will require analysis at the human and social levels to best exploit the technical power. We are becoming a vast socio-technical system that challenges existing structures.”

Communications studies graduate student Stephanie Dailey will be working with Bailey and will be traveling to Poland and India, she said.

“I’m going to be helping interview participants of the study,” Dailey said. “I’m really excited about collecting research in different countries. I haven’t had the opportunity to do that before.”

Kevin Kenyon skates with the puck for the UT club hockey team. Kenyon moved to Houston from Germany as a child and played junior hockey in Canada before coming to Texas.

Not many hockey players in Europe dream of playing in Texas. But for European-born Kevin Kenyon and Marcin Papiez, the UT club hockey team is now where they continue their love of the sport.


Kenyon was born in Munich and lived in Germany for 10 years. After playing hockey as a child, he moved to Houston with his family where he played for his high school team.


“I speak German with my mom, but Germany isn’t very culturally different from here,” Kenyon said. “I feel like Germany is kind of like a copy of America.”


He does miss the tight-knit small towns of Germany, though. He began playing hockey because his dad played, and he looks back on the great times with his dad at the rink.


“I just loved it and started playing and never turned back,” Kenyon said.


After graduating high school, he made the decision to play junior hockey in British Columbia.


“With football, you start out and you play high school and you go straight to college,” Kenyon said. “But with hockey, if you play high school and if you want to play competitively anywhere in college or something, you have to go play juniors and that’s where the scouts look.”


Between living with a host family and handling the tremendous demands of playing sports full-time, junior hockey life is difficult. After a year in British Columbia, Kenyon decided it was time to focus on school.  


“I was just kind of sick of the whole junior lifestyle,” Kenyon said. “It’s really brutish and demanding. It’s very competitive.”


Kenyon could have gone to a lesser school that had a more formal hockey program but decided he wanted a more academically balanced environment. He came to Texas, where they have a strong computer science program and a club hockey team.


He misses Germany sometimes, but hockey provides continuity in his life.


“Hockey is always going to be important to me,” Kenyon said. “That’s why I still put in the time now, even though that doesn’t mean I will play after UT. It’s something that’s intrinsically within me.”


Kenyon isn’t the only foreign-born player on the roster. Marcin Papiez is from Poland and moved to the United States two years ago expecting to play hockey for a Division I college team.


“Those were my priorities, to play hockey first and then school,” Papiez said. “But later, it kind of switched. Education is first now and hockey second.”


Papiez’s parents immigrated to the United States before him, and he remained in Poland to finish high school. He played for the Polish Under-18 and Under-20 national teams.


“Wearing your jersey with your national emblem on your chest — it is something that I will remember for the rest of my life,” Papiez said. “Travelling with people who are at the highest level in Poland and just being around them is really kind of inspiring.”


During the 2009 World Junior Championship, he competed against some current NHL players such as the Phoenix Coyotes’ Mikkel Boedker and the Montreal Canadiens’ Lars Eller. Poland had a disappointing loss to Japan and placed fourth in the tournament.


Although he is proud of his Polish heritage, he did not hesitate to come to the U.S. when he had the
opportunity.


“I love Texas,” Papiez said. “Coming from Poland, we have four seasons. I used to get really sick of the winters. When you would walk somewhere, your feet would almost freeze.”


Both players believe hockey is something they need to have Head coach Bob Smith said both players are tough competitors.


“Kevin, because he started young in Europe and came over here and became very Americanized, understands the best of both worlds,” Smith said. “He has good experience in both U.S. and European kind of hockey. Marcin brings a lot of European finesse and athleticism.”

Leah Johnson was 16 years old when Germany invaded Poland in 1939. She spent the rest of her teenage years resisting Nazi forces from within Poland as part of a Jewish resistance group. Johnson escaped from a ghetto outside her hometown of Lida, Poland, in 1943 to join the Bielski Brigade in the woods outside the city. The Bielski Brigade was a Jewish resistance group responsible for saving about 1,200 Jewish lives during the war. She told her story to a group of 100 people Wednesday night at the Chabad Jewish Student Center at UT. The event began with a screening of the History Channel documentary “The Bielski Brothers: Jeruselem in the Woods.” The documentary featured Johnson along with other survivors who were part of the resistance group. The creators of the 2008 film “Defiance,” which told the story of the Beilski Brigade, also interviewed Johnson. She saw the movie for the first time during a special screening in New York City. “The movie was well done, but not everything was shown,” Johnson said. “It was not enough.” Rabbi Zev Johnson, Leah Johnson’s grandson, and the Rabbi for the Jewish Center said the purpose of having his grandmother tell her story was to promote Jewish awareness and raise Jewish pride. “The typical story is how Jews were slaughtered, and that story is right and important,” Zev Johnson said. “This is the story of Jewish resistance, and this resistance saved over 1,200 lives.” According to the documentary, the movement was the largest rescue of Jews by other Jews during World War II, and about 20,000 people are alive today as a result of the efforts of the Bielski brothers who formed the Brigade. Leah Johnson said she met and married her husband while in the forest hiding from the Nazis. She said he was a former Russian soldier and went on missions for weeks at a time for the brigade to blow up trains and bridges or just get food. Leah Johnson’s son Murray Johnson was also at the event to help his mother answer questions. He said she feels a connection to the forest because of the time she spent there hiding for her life. “She has often said over the years in the woods you can take a pillow and a blanket and have a good time,” Murray Johnson said.