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Josh Misner, PhD

Mindful Living in a Distracted World

Survival By Accident: Reflections on Gdansk

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As I sit up in bed on our ship, the MV World Odyssey, Polish food in my belly and a hint of Dubrowka bison grass vodka in my veins, I cannot help but reflect on what an incredibly profound day today has been.

Today was my first field class, meaning that I took one of my three communication courses for Semester at Sea on a “field trip” of sorts, this time my intercultural communication class on an exploration of the impact of the Holocaust on the people of Gdańsk, Poland. Continue reading “Survival By Accident: Reflections on Gdansk”

Berlin: The Character of a City

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I’ve always felt like cities have a character about them. Growing up in Spokane, we all talked about our city’s character; it was the big city with a small town mindset. Even to this day, it has that feel to it, for the most part.

In Reykjavik, it was all about the environment. Iceland is, by far, one of the cleanest countries I’ve ever been to, and their commitment to zero emissions and waste is evident in every single thing they do. In fact, I’d say that’s probably their defining feature and what they seem most proud of.

In Bergen, it was their heritage and way of life. Everywhere we went, everyone we saw, and everything we were surrounded by was decidedly Norwegian. Even the ancient wooden stave we visited, though it had the emblems of Christianity and all the influence that comes with that, those symbols were overpowered by the Viking and Nordic influences of old. Continue reading “Berlin: The Character of a City”

The Power of Kindness in Any Language

I didn’t know what picture to insert, so here’s a pretty sunset over Krakow.

Before our plane landed in Reykjavik, the first stop on our 15-country, 4-continent adventure, I had downloaded language packs for each country we had planned on visiting via Google Translate.

As we sat on the plane, with about 20 minutes before landing, I pulled up the app and immediately looked up a translation for one phrase, which I consider the most important universal symbol of kindness and connection: THANK YOU. Continue reading “The Power of Kindness in Any Language”

Stories of Hope: Balancing the Scales of Morality

WARNING: This post contains Nazi emblems and imagery of graphic violence.

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Last night, I couldn’t sleep. Each time my head hit the pillow and my eyelids fell shut, all I could see were the images from Auschwitz, while my imagination ran roughshod with  nightmarish stories emerging from the shadows of the past.

Moments like this were made for melatonin.

Today’s quest was to continue our exploration of the stories from the Holocaust; however, our agenda remarkably contrasted with that of yesterday’s, for today, our destination was Oskar Schindler’s factory. Continue reading “Stories of Hope: Balancing the Scales of Morality”

Grappling with Grief: A Day at Auschwitz Birkenau

Hubert, our beloved Polish taxi driver who picked us up from the airport and offered to chauffeur us to Auschwitz the following day (despite it being his day off), greeted us this morning with a friendly smile and wave. He kindly drove us to a BP, where I managed to get Stacie the iced coffee she’s been craving since we left the states, and we were then on our way to the one-hour commute to the town of Oświęcim.

Watching the lush green forest whiz past our taxi van, I started spacing off. I thought of this being the very ground our grandfathers and great-grandfathers tread upon, equally unprepared as I to witness the sights waiting for us at this most infamous extermination camp. I thought about their fervor and delight when it came time to volunteer to go to Europe to fight the forces of fascism and oppression, and then I contrasted that with the images I see of today, those of the rising swell of white nationalism and neo-nazism, bearing many of the same symbols as the flags that once flew over this parade of horrors. Continue reading “Grappling with Grief: A Day at Auschwitz Birkenau”

Arrival in Krakow, Feeling the Weight of History Bearing Down

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Upon checking out of our hostel/apartment in Reykjavik, we were picked up by an airport shuttle by a young Polish man with a stunning haircut (hint: his head was shaved, just like mine and half the other men in Poland). Upon finding out that our next major stop was Krakow, his eyes absolutely lit up with joy, exclaiming, “MY HOME COUNTRY?!?”

Upon hearing this news, our driver began talking about all the things to see and do in his home country, but when he asked where we were going and we told him Krakow, his joy suddenly turned somber. This man seemed reluctant to call Auschwitz by its name, referring to it as “the unspeakable place” instead. He lamented the reputation of his beloved Poland as being tarnished by the last 80 years of history there, reminding us that there are hundreds of years of storied history to explore in addition to that most fateful and terrible series of events for which it is known. Continue reading “Arrival in Krakow, Feeling the Weight of History Bearing Down”

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