Wellesley has impacted my life in so many substantial ways, but none so dramatically as the present. I need to take you back five years to clarify. In 2010 I visited the German Federal Archives and learned to my shock that my grandfather was in the SS in Poland throughout WWII. My visit to the archives was the culmination of many years of experiencing just how destructive such a family secret can be. During the subsequent five years, I devoted a great deal of time and own funds to researching the story in Germany and in Poland. I was born in Brazil in 1967 and the real reasons for my German family's presence there never truthfully revealed to me. My pursuit of this story took on dimensions beyond my own family as Europe, my home since leaving Wellesley, began once again to see the rise to prominence of far right wing parties in politics, mainly due to immigration and later on a refugee crisis. I felt that those of us in perpetrator families had an obligation to speak out about our experiences and knowledge so that we can further understand the dynamics of radicalization and how its consequences play themselves out disastrously in families and communities. Just as I was coming to the limits of financial means to support my research through own resources, Wellesley stepped in with the Stevens Traveling Fellowship so that I could complete my work. I write and speak widely about my research in schools and in other institutions to try to spread learning, increase tolerance and stop extremism.
Wellesley means the courage to take the road less traveled by.