Welcome to the Experiential Learning Blog! Here you can find information on our upcoming trips and courses that will be offered. We also have posts from students who have participated in past Experiential Learning trips/courses so that you can get an idea of just how valuable these can be for you!
Summer 2018 – War Path
“this trip . . . helped me grow as a historian”
My Warpath experiential learning trip was an experience I will never forget. For a full 2 weeks, other student historians and I embarked on an expedition following the Algonquin Regiment’s steps through Europe during WWII. It’s one thing learning about military tactics and historic battles through a textbook, but it’s a much different experience when you walk the actual battlefield grounds, down the rows of the Canadian War Cemeteries, and even learning first hand military tactics from a current Algonquin Regiment Captain. In addition to this exciting new way of learning, this trip allowed me to travel around a beautiful continent while being surrounded by rich history and even better company. The memories created and lessons learnt from this trip are things that have helped me grow as a historian, and I will cherish them forever.
– Patrick-Aurel Fournier
“will change your perspective on the war”
My biggest take away from the trip was not being able to see the locations that history occurred on, and that was an amazing experience; rather, the single greatest thing I got out of the trip and the main reason I would recommend this kind of trip to anyone would be the people. When we were in Belgium and the Netherlands we spent time with individuals and groups at just about every location we went to. Talking with these people will change your perspective on the war and how grateful the world is for Canada’s intervention in the war. For example, in a small town in the Netherlands we met up with a local history group at one of their houses. We proceeded to spend the night talking and eating with them, getting to know what a normal Dutch person is like and what Dutch society is like. I had a conversation with Robert Catsburg, an amateur historian who specializes in the history and activities of the Algonquin regiment, and he told me through dozens of examples how much the Dutch people revere Canada as their saviour in the war. For example, he told me that in the Netherlands after the war much like we have mandatory French classes in elementary school and high school, they have the same for English so that they can easily converse with Canadians who come back to this area. The things he and others told me that night was mind blowing and changed my life and how I saw that period of Canadian history forever. After that trip I never respected my family who served in the war more.
– Alexander Croxall
Summer 2017 – Into that Darkness
The testimonial below is from when this course was offered in May 2017. If you like the description and wish you had gone, not to worry! The course is being offered again in May 2019. You can email Dr. Earl at email@example.com for more information.
“a humbling experience”
The two week Into that Darkness experiential learning course to Poland, led by Professors Hilary Earl of Nipissing University and Eva Plach of Wilfrid Laurier University (Waterloo), emphasized the memorialization, and lasting memory and effects of the Holocaust in modern day Poland. This experience exposed us to critical questions on how we, as students and foreigners in Poland, should remember the horrors of the Holocaust and understand how Poland memorialized the historic sites. How do Poles think about their antisemitic past? What is the appropriate way for Poles to remember the Holocaust and their involvement in perpetrating atrocities against their fellow Jewish citizens? When do Poles get to move on from the events of World War II? There is only so much one can learn in the classroom using primary and secondary sources. The exposure to the death and concentration camps and extinct Jewish communities across Poland highlighted the enormous size of the systematic operation of killing Polish and European Jewish men, women, and children, something that only geographical space can capture.
What made this experiential course unique is that as a group, we gave back to the scholarship, historical Jewish communities and people that we were studying. In Krakow and Warsaw we volunteered two of our mornings to cleaning two greatly neglected and overgrown Jewish cemeteries. While cleaning, we were faced with the question – should the Polish government maintain the cemeteries of the nearly extinct Jewish communities? This was hard work but a humbling experience that put into perspective that the Jews of Poland have been forgotten and lost to history. Into that Darkness was an educational, emotional, and fulfilling academic course and experience that changed my life and will never be forgotten.
– Chris MacLea, BA Honours, History & BEd, Nipissing University