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Global Memory

Looking back at our study abroad experience, now several days past our last stop in Amsterdam, I’m proud of how much learning we’ve accomplished as a group. Not only are we now part of the small percentage on campus that can say we’ve “studied abroad,” but we’re also stronger scholars in the process. In the two weeks (or so) that we’ve been in Europe, we’ve tried new foods, visited new places, and improved our foreign language vocabulary. And somehow, amidst all the metro stops and miniature glasses of water, I saw five national variations of preserving the World War II memory. The United States displays pride and honor in the Normandy American cemetery, and the German Cemetery reminds us that every soldier, good or bad, had a mother and father looking after them. England focuses on the power behind their leaders, demonstrating the successful military moves and intelligence strategies that helped shorten the war. The French highlight their government’s actions, and the city of Amsterdam creates a focal point around the Jewish community and their legacy. Years from now, I hope I never forget the contrasting methods of memorialization between each country. Even with a few memorials on foreign land, those properties are maintained appropriately for each country’s narrative from the war. Though we defined memory study on the first day of class this Spring, our time abroad has taught me how important it is to create an accurate memory. I’ve also realized how memory is different for every country, because each country had a unique role in the war. To take this one step further, every government official, soldier, and civilian had a unique role in the war. This trip has solidified my belief that no matter your role or nationality, every perspective should be preserved into global memory so that we can work to better prevent future destruction.