Professor Jeff Charnley’s Ejournal Entry for Paris 6 July 2007 and “The Story of the Candle”

The Story of “The Candle”


[Charnley Ejournal Entry to Family, Paris, 6 July 2007]


Now, finally, today the weather broke and it has been “too bright & too sunny” for the absolute first time on the trip!  I said to the students, “NO complaints about the bright sun, 80 degrees, and totally blue sky,” and everyone laughed.

I couldn’t get them up from sunning themselves on their backs in the grass by Trocadero when we had our picnic feast under the Eiffel Tower!  Everyone really had a fine time.  I  had divided them up into five 5 person teams for food– like we used to do–some got bread, some got cheese, some got fresh fruit and some got pastries (which came in designer boxes with ribbons–power shoppers they were  and the French pastries were superb!). My group was to get the meat and I thought I remembered the street nearby where there was a butcher shop but we went down the wrong street for some reason and ended up walking more than a mile until we finally found a charchuterie with lunchmeat and pates.  Not only was it a deli BUT it was a kosher deli and before we went on our “search for meat” my one Jewish student had reminded me she didn’t eat pork.  So when I announced that we were having kosher deli lunchmeat (smoked veal,
smoked turkey, and chicken), she positively BEAMED with delight!  And, I had
bought at the deli a memorial candle in a little tin can that had been made in Israel
and I gave it to her and said, “We will burn this candle at Buchenwald.”  She
looked me in the eye and smiled and nodded!  It was a very “teachable
moment”. [End of journal entry]


Exactly one week later, we were in Germany and had spent the entire day of study at Buchenwald Concentration Camp, near Weimar.  As before, it was an emotional day for the students and the culmination came just before we entered the crematorium at the camp.  I talked to the students briefly just before we went inside.  The student with the candle gave it back to me temporarily and I held it up and I told the other students what it was and how we got it.  I told them that I didn’t know why I went down the wrong street in Paris but perhaps that it was meant to be.  And when I gave it back to our Jewish student and said to the others, “She will light this candle of remembrance on our behalf inside at this place as our memorial,” at this point, just about everyone broke down.  That was not my intention but it proved to be the effect of those words in that place.  Finally, the students really understood why I had brought them to Europe on this study abroad—it was the war, it was memory, it was memorials and it also was the story of “the candle.”

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