Awakening in the Silence
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Education project

Awakening in the Silence

Bochnia Salt Mine
Keywords: commemorative silence

Have you ever been to an event and been asked to pause for 2-minutes of silence? It is a very shared moment that provides the space not only to reflect on a narrative, but to create a new one. Awakening in the Silence took 18 students from Yale-NUS Singapore for a Week 7 out-of-classroom Lab.

The students and I went on a journey of 3 places in order to experience the power of silence. In Kraków, we observed how nuns at Siostry Klaryski practiced the ritual of their day in liturgical silence. On the day of Yom Kippur we went to Oświęcim [Auschwitz]. At the Centrum Św. Maksymiliana, we visited an exhibition of images drawn and painted by Marian Kołodziej whose work influenced my own piece Pokój w Pokoju. Then we went on to the Bochnia salt mine, sleeping 2 nights in rooms located 250 meters below the ground. During those days, we performed a piece arranged from whirlies, and singer called A Grave in the Air [nothing was manipulated in the recording, the echoes were natural – our concert stage was a 250-meter tunnel after all!]

This was a course that posed three questions on students: Can even a brief silence inject us into a space where we can focus and absorb experience? Is Silence so resoundingly real that it can let us reflect on some things that we cannot put into words? Can silence reawaken our dependency on something greater than ourselves?