Iona University Students Broaden Global Perspectives through Poland Study Abroad Trip

Iona students and faculty with Polish Christian Witness Survivor, Mrs. Zdzisława Włodarczyk.

Iona students and faculty with Polish Christian Witness Survivor, Mrs. Zdzisława Włodarczyk.

New Rochelle N.Y.  – Iona University students embarked on a week-long study abroad experience in Oświęcim, Poland. The program offered a unique blend of classroom knowledge and real-world exploration, focusing on the complex themes of Jewish-Christian relations and the Holocaust during World War II and its lasting impact on history.

During their time in Poland, students typically started the day with an early breakfast - family style seating and serving, with fresh food inspired by Polish traditions. Travelling by foot, an educational excursion was usually next on the itinerary.

Dr. Elena Procario-Foley, Jewish-Catholic studies professor, led the trip in cooperation with the Centre for Dialogue and Prayer. During their stay in Poland, students visited the Auschwitz State Museum, toured several historical sites and heard first-hand accounts about the Shoah, meaning catastrophe in Hebrew, from a Polish child survivor of Auschwitz.

“Having the honor to learn on such an important topic as the Shoah has allowed me to become a true advocate for those of Jewish heritage through personal relationships and experiences,” said Shakinah Silverberg ’24, one of five participants on the trip.

Viola Shala, an intern at the Center for Dialogue Prayer in Oswiecim, teaching Iona students and faculty about the history of Oswiecim.

Viola Shala, an intern at the Center for Dialogue Prayer in Oswiecim, teaching Iona students and faculty about the history of Oswiecim.

“Very few get to say that they have gone to Poland and walked the grounds of Auschwitz-Birkenau, and even fewer have had the honor to meet a survivor of the Shoah. Thanks to these opportunities put together by Dr. Elena Procario-Foley, I can now call myself a true witness and scholar on topics related to the history of Judaism and the complexity of their relationships with various groups. I will forever be grateful and changed as a person moving forward.”

Additionally, students visited Pope John Paul II’s hometown and toured a full multi-story museum dedicated to the Pope which provided further context about Jewish-Christian relations during the time of the war.

Each day ended with a guided evening reflection for students to decompress and share thoughts following the day’s events.

When students weren’t immersed in academic activities of the trip, they enjoyed tours of the beautiful city, Kraków, visited actual sites of the events depicted in the movie Schindler’s List and explored Market Square.

Congratulations to the following students on a successful study abroad: 

  • Meghan Bernardy ’26
  • Alesandra Payne ’24
  • Hallie Schreiner ’24
  • Shakinah Silverberg ’24
  • Hayden Skigen ’24  

For more information about study abroad opportunities please visit here.

Students and faculty at the John Paul II Museum in Wadowice also known as the hometown of Saint Pope John Paul II.

Students and faculty at the John Paul II Museum in Wadowice also known as the hometown of Saint Pope John Paul II. From left to right: Dr. Melba Butler, Hallie Schreiner ’24, Hayden Skigen ’24, Shakinah Silverberg ’24, Alessandra Payne ’24, Meghan Bern

ABOUT IONA
Founded in 1940, Iona University is a master's-granting private, Catholic, coeducational institution of learning in the tradition of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers. Iona's 45-acre New Rochelle campus and 28-acre Bronxville campus are just 20 miles north of Midtown Manhattan. With a total enrollment of nearly 4,000 students and an alumni base of more than 50,000 around the world, Iona is a diverse community of learners and scholars dedicated to academic excellence and the values of justice, peace and service. Iona is highly accredited, offering undergraduate degrees in liberal arts, science and business administration, as well as Master of Arts, Master of Science and Master of Business Administration degrees and numerous advanced certificate programs. Iona students enjoy small class sizes, engaged professors and a wide array of academic programs across the School of Arts & Science; LaPenta School of Business; NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences; and Hynes Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. Iona is widely recognized in prestigious rankings, including The Princeton Review’s 2024 national list of “The Best 389 Colleges” and The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse’s “2024 Best Colleges in America,” which ranked Iona at #66 in the nation overall and #8 in the nation among Catholic schools. Iona’s LaPenta School of Business is also accredited by AACSB International, a recognition awarded to just six percent of business schools worldwide. In addition, The Princeton Review recognized Iona’s on-campus MBA program as a “Best Business School for 2023.” Iona also offers a fully online MBA program for even greater flexibility. In July 2021, Iona announced the establishment of the NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences, which is now principally located on Iona’s Bronxville campus in collaboration with NewYork-Presbyterian. Connecting to its Irish heritage, the University also recently announced it is expanding abroad with a new campus in County Mayo, Ireland. A school on the rise, Iona officially changed its status from College to University on July 1, 2022, reflecting the growth of its academic programs and the prestige of an Iona education.