When recent Hartford Seminary graduate Adeel Zeb walked into Auschwitz this summer, he was not prepared for the powerful emotional impact it would have on him.
“I don’t think one can really be prepared for it,” he said. “It’s very intense and traumatic.”
Zeb visited the infamous concentration camp as part of the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics program. The two-week intensive program trains journalism, law, medical and seminary students to address contemporary ethical issues using the unique historical framework of how people in their own professions behaved during the Holocaust.
“I saw how cruel humanity can be towards each other, and how quickly such an atrocity can happen,” Zeb said. “I felt personally changed in that I am even more cognizant now and hope to be a staunch advocate for ethics in the professional realm.”
Zeb, who graduated from the seminary in June with a Master’s degree in Islamic Chaplaincy, said he was the only Muslim on the trip, his first to Germany and Poland. The other seminary and medical students in his group were Christian and Jewish, but all respected his point of view.
“The participants in the program had the utmost character and moral compass,” he said. “They were open-minded and supportive of each other through the dark journey that we had to encounter.”
Zeb, who is originally from New Jersey and grew up in Texas, came to study at Hartford Seminary after getting a bachelor’s degree in Islamic studies from Arees University. He is now the Muslim Chaplain at Trinity College in Hartford and Wesleyan University in Middletown.
The experience at Auschwitz, Zeb said, will help him “further be aware of my professional ethics, especially when it comes to people who come from different backgrounds than I do.”