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Day 8 – Prague, Czech Republic


There is no grass growing under Class 50’s feet!  After an emotional and difficult day at Auschwitz, our class was up early to synthesize with deep reflection about what we had experienced.  To state that we had all witnessed a life changing event would be an absolute understatement.

During our synthesis, our fellows introduced us to 20 individuals who were/are related to the Holocaust.  Fellows shared the individual stories which provided a deeper connection of what we had experienced.  Stories ranged from young children to adults.  

The individuals behind the stories, when presented, had to make an incredibly critical decision that would potentially change their lives and the lives of others forever.  Once such story was that of Mr. Simcha Rotem who was 15 in 1939, when Germany invaded Poland.  At the age 18, he joined the Warsaw Ghetto’s Jewish Combat Organization deciding to fight to “choose the kind of death” he wanted.  He is one of the only survivors who helped Warsaw Ghetto Uprising fighters escape through the drainage system.  

He is quoted as saying “…no words can describe what the Holocaust and the uprising was like and what the bestiality of the Germans was like, but despite their cruelty, they did not break the moral of the Jewish people. To this day I have doubts as to whether we had the right to carry out the uprising and shorten the lives of people by a day, a week or two weeks.”

There were 19 other stories like this.  

The synthesis time was well spent and allowed Fellows an open space to share their feelings.  

We then moved on to Prague, an approximately 200 km bus ride, much needed, for continued personal thoughts and reflection.


We arrived in Prague just in time for lunch and then embarked on a city walking tour with our guide, Alena Byrne, a local with a wealth of knowledge about the Czech Republic and a witty sense of humor, made our first day in Prague educational and fun.

Our first stop included the Prague Castle, which was built in the 9th Century and is currently the official office of the President of the Czech Republic. The castle was also a seat of power for kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman emperors and is still home to the Bohemian Crown Jewels.

As we approached the entrance to the Castle, we were able to watch the changing of the guard and then witnessed some of the most stunning cathedrals, chapels, and royal palaces any of us have ever seen. According to our guide (and the Guinness Book of Records), Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world, covering a span of 18 acres. The Castle is home to St. Vitus Cathedral, a temple that not only offers religious services, coronations of kings and queens, it is also a place of burial of patron saints, sovereigns, noblemen and archbishops.

Class 50 Group Photo inside the Castle in front of the St. Vitus Cathedral.

As we navigated rainy streets and cobblestone sidewalks, we were able to see Prague’s beauty and history at sunset and through the evening hours. We crossed the Charles Bridge over the Vltava River, which connects the Prague Castle and Old Town Prague and until 1841, it was the only means of crossing the river until 1841 and allowed an important trade route between Eastern and Western Europe.

Charles Bridge

Our final stop before dinner was Old Town Prague, where we were able to take in more beautiful architecture and local culture. We saw the Astronomical Clock, a medieval astronomical clock attached to the Old Town Hall; it was installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest clock still in operation. We completed the evening by enjoying a traditional Czech dinner of pork pate, duck, roasted pork, spicy sausage, cabbage, dumplings and the Czech’s version of gnocchi drizzled with poppy seeds and caramel sauce. At dinner, we also celebrated the one-year work anniversary of California Agricultural Leadership Foundation’s Executive Vice President Abby Taylor-Silva.

Astronomical Tower in Old Town Prague
Old Town Prague

As we close out our first night in Prague, here are some final thoughts:

Life is full of choices, small or big ones that could drastically change the course of an entire country, race or continent. People during World War II had difficult choices to make that shaped the future of the next generations.

Resilience, empathy, courage and love where some of the qualities that brave people had in them. People that made a difference by helping others, giving hope or just by being there. As leaders we have a lot to learn from our past so that these horrific events don’t happen again. We feel different, we are different…

2 thoughts on “Day 8 – Prague, Czech Republic

  1. I appreciate your thoughtful summary of trying to synthesize the overwhelming experiences of recent days. Your closing comments remind me that in a time of brutal oppression, the only light that shines is that of individuals reaching out to care for others. The city of Prague is magical and I love seeing your smiling faces living in the moment!


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