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Students' holocaust tour collides with geological hazards and modern travel

The group of U.S. high school students I wrote about last week who are in Europe learning about the Holocaust had a ring-side seat to contemporary history this weekend.

The students and teachers from New Jersey, Kansas and California were supposed to fly back to the U.S. on Saturday, but like all other flights from across much of Europe theirs was canceled. As fate would have it they are in Krakow — which happens to be where Polish President Lech Kacyznski and his wife were laid-to rest today in a state funeral. So the eyes of the world were upon the city.

The funeral seems to have enveloped the whole of Krakow, which came to a virtual halt Sunday —except for the funeral. By one estimate 150,000 Poles showed up for the mass.

On Saturday the students visited the Basilica where today's funeral took place. The students watched it from the hotel lobby.

So far, they have been stranded in Krakow about a day and a half beyond their scheduled departure. But in that short time one student missed her prom and another teacher missed her daughter's prom.

So far spirits remain relatively high, Colleen Tambuscio, tour tour leader says via email, “we are working hard to keep them busy and focused on the positive.” She adds that they “are in a nice hotel in a serene and historical town.”

No word, yet on when they — or any of the other millions of stranded travelers across Europe — might be allowed to fly, but Tambuscio said: “We play group games at night to continue the group bonding and keep their minds off waiting to go home.”