Posts Tagged ‘poland’

Getting to know you, Part 6 – Taylor (me)

Name: Taylor Fulton
Age : 17
Favorite movie: White Christmas or The Princess Bride
Currently reading: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Who is your host sibling? Monika
Do your host parents speak English? Yes
What have been your favorite experiences so far? Getting to know so many new people (who are all so kind!), getting my passport stamped in Frankfurt, and simply being able to see Europe firsthand.
What are you most looking forward to seeing while in Poland? Zelazowa Wola, Frederic Chopin’s birthplace.

What is your favorite Polish phrase to say and why? “Trochę rozumiem po polsku,” [I understand a little Polish], because whenever I say it, people tend to smile, and three times people have told me that my accent is good.
Up to this point, what has been your favorite Polish food? Sweet pierogies, and (of course) ice cream.
What is one thing you’d love to bring home from Poland but can’t? My host family, and all of the new friends I’ve made. Oh, and the gorgeous old brick buildings.
What will you miss most about Poland? The people, the food, and walking everywhere. And being surrounded by so much history!!
What is your favorite (English) word?  Antidisestablishmentarianism
What is your dream career? Something where I could spread the Gospel, help people and be somehow involved in medicine while still being able to read a lot and spend time with my family. :)
If you had a theme song, what would it be? Eyes by Stellar Kart

Getting to know you, Part 5 – Marcus

Name: Marcus Miller
Age :  ??
Favorite movie:   Remember the Titans or Hoosiers
Currently reading:  “Gulliver’s Travels by Johnathan Swift because I finished all other books I brought with me.”
Who is your host sibling? Anjelika
Do your host parents speak English?  host father – no,  host mother – a little

What has/have been your favorite experience(s) so far?   the Jewish tour of Lodz
What are you most looking forward to seeing/doing while in Poland?  “Just excited about the whole trip”
What is your favorite Polish phrase to say and why?   ”głumpka” (stuffed cabbage) -” I just think it sounds neat”

Up to this point, what has been your favorite Polish food?  a soup Anjelika’s mother made one day
What is one thing you’d love to bring home from Poland but can’t?   “one of those cute little cars” [Smart cars]
What will you miss most about Poland?  ??
What is your favorite (English) word?   ”I’m always amazed by the word awkward…it’s spelled awkwardly.”

What is your dream career?  Teaching at IMS, or being a diplomat
If you had a theme song, what would it be? combination of Bruce Springsteen’s Thunder Road and Beethoven’s 6th


Taylor requested, via email, that we provide a short update regarding Krakow. At the moment, they have very little free time and very limited internet access. Here is a short summary of the focus of their time in this great city…..

The final phase of the US Poland Parliamentary Exchange program occurs in Krakow. The US students will again be reunited with their Polish host ’siblings’, with the main focus of their time spent on a Community Service Project Competition. This competition is sponsored by the Kosciuszko Foundation  “The students will create and write a competitive Community Service Project Proposal that includes school and/or community volunteers to be implemented in the Polish host community for the benefit of the community.”

The Krakow schedule is extremely full, consisting largely of workshops to implement this program.

Coincidentally, also occurring in Krakow this weekend is  the celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the Community of Democracy. This celebration includes a gathering of Foreign Affairs Ministers from around the world that will attend the High Level Democracy Meeting to discuss current challenges to democracy. US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton is among the featured guests, along with representatives from 75 countries.

This amazing experience is nearing it’s end. The students are scheduled to depart Krakow and return to the USA on the 5th. This is sure to be bittersweet as they must again say goodbye to their host siblings, and the wonderful country of Poland.

Thank you for visiting Taylor’s blog. I am confident she will provide more details/photos on her visit to Krakow soon.

Happy 4th of July weekend!


(The photos are from Warsaw earlier this week…We have not received any uploads from Krakow due to the busy schedule)


Busy, but fun!

Hello all! I apologize for not posting prompt updates of our progress in Poland…they’ve been keeping us very busy! At the same time, though, we’ve been enjoying ourselves immensely. Here are some of the highlights from the past few days….

Sunday (27 June)

Our first stop on Sunday was Łazenki Park, where we went on a tour of a bathhouse used by the final king of Poland, Stanisław II August Poniatowski. It was gorgeous! There was sort of a “water” theme to the architecture that continued throughout the house.

Unfortunately we were not allowed to take photos inside of the palace so here is a view from the outside.

We also toured a villa, called the White House, which was located only a few hundred meters from the Łazenki Palace. It was used as a guest house for the king, during the summers. At one point during the French Revolution, King Louis XVIII stayed in this villa while he was in exile!

We were not allowed to take photos within the White House, either.

We next attended a Chopin concert, also in Łazenki park! It has been a tradition in Warsaw, ever since the year 1959, to have Chopin concerts in the park beneath the statue of said composer. However, because this year, 2010, Chopin would have celebrated his 200th birthday, the concerts are all the more special. I did not catch the name of the pianist at this concert,  or even which exact pieces he played, but it was still very nice.

Our next Sunday stop was a tour of the city of Warsaw.

We first visited the Kopernicus memorial.

Next, we traveled to the Church of the Holy Cross, where we saw....

...the column containing the actual heart of Frederic Chopin!!! Really!! It's inside of the column, in a jar filled with alcohol. Isn't that cool?!?!?

We also saw this apartment building, which was the last home of Frederic Chopin while he was in Warsaw. I'm a bit of a Chopin nut, so this was extremely exciting to me. :)

Our tour took us through a major part of the city of Warsaw and ended in Old Town.

85% of the Warsaw was completely bombed out during World War II, including Old Town. After the war, it was rebuilt, making it one of the newest “Old Towns” in all of Europe. :)

Monday (28 June)

Our first meeting on Monday was quite interesting. Katarzyna (Kasia) Szeniawska, who started eFTe (a group encouraging fair trade and economical consumption) talked to us about activism in both the local and global arenas. It was interesting to think about how many small actions can make a big difference.

Our next meeting was at the Ministry of National Education, only a few blocks from our hotel. We had the privilege of meeting with the Vice-Minister of National Education (actually, his official term is something like Under-Secretary of State of Education), Mirosław Sielatycki. He was very kind, and we learned quite a bit about some of the differences between the education systems here in Poland and those at home in the USA. For instance, parents can choose at what age they send their children to kindergarten (either age 5 or 6). The meeting was very informative.

Our next stop was the Palace of Culture and Science in downtown Warsaw. At 230 meters high, it is the largest building in the city (and the country!).

Our entire group of Americans on the steps of the palace.

It was built between 1952 and 1955 by the Russians in the Socialist Realism style of arcitechture. I must admit it was fairly differerent from anything I’d yet seen in Poland, but it was still very neat to see such a different style. Although the decorations were far from ornate, the artistry was still very majestic and strong-looking.

We also had the privilege of visiting the viewing terrace of the Palace, on the 30th floor! From there, we could see the the entire city!

In the afternoon we traveled to the offices of Polityka magazine, one of the leading weekly political newspapers in Poland. Our guide, Wawrzyniec Smoczyński, was the deputy editor of Foreign Affairs for the magazine, and was incredibly informative. Not only did he walk us through the entire process of how a magazine is made, give us a tour of the building and arrange a meeting with the editor-in-chief of the entire magazine, he also led us in a fascinating discussion of Polish politics. It has been very interesting hearing the different points-of-view people have on Polish history, especially relating to Russia and Germany, and how their point-of-view seems to shape their political views.

Tuesday (29 June….today!)

Today was also extremely interesting! We had the chance to visit the Polish Sejm (part of the Parliament, sort of like the US Congress) and Senate.  However, before we went on a tour of the buildings, we were privileged to meet with the chair of the Polish Foreign Affairs Committee, Andrej Halicki, as well as another of the members of the Foreign Affairs Committee and a well-informed professor. From these three we learned even more about Polish politics, especially the differences between parties. In America, we have only two main political parties — Republican and Democrat. In Poland, however, there are four major parties — Law & Justice, Civic Platform, Social Democrat (part of the Democratic Left Alliance) and the Polish People’s Party. Three of these parties were represented in our meeting, and it was quite fascinating to hear the differences in the positions of all three of these important men.

Our tour of the building was quite interesting. The large parliamentary meeting halls very strongly resembled those of the American legislative branch in Washington DC.

Our next stop today was at the US Embassy. We met with Mr. Chuck Ashley, as well as a number of other Foreign Service Officers. They informed us on America’s political and economic positions with Poland.

After this we traveled back to the offices of the European Academy of Diplomacy, where we had a workshop on diplomatic protocol. The presenter for this lecture was ambassador J. Piekarski, who has led a very fascinating life. (I won’t go into all of the details…read the attached link for a brief overview.) We learned about what (and what not) to do at offical state dinners, as well as some of the differences between “formal” and “informal” in a professional diplomatic setting. (Let it be noted that if an invitation says “informal”, the ambassador inviting you still probably wants you wearing something much nicer than even your classiest pair of khakis.) 

That’s all I can fit in for this evening! I hope you are all having a lovely summer. I will try to update again as soon as I can!!



Election Day – Results!


Poland’s presidential election is heading for a second round, with no single candidate getting enough votes to win Sunday’s first round outright.   Bronislaw Komorowski, who has been acting leader since President Lech Kaczynski died in a plane crash on 10 April, won but by less than expected.   The two will now go head-to-head in a run-off on 4 July.  We will be in Krakow on the 4th.  I will miss going to the polls with my Polish family!

I will keep you updated…

Do widzenia!  (Bye for now)


Election Day



Exactly two months and ten days ago, a great tragedy occurred near Smolensk, Russia. A plane carrying many Polish heads of state (including President Lech Kazcynski and his wife) crashed in a lonely forest, killing all 96 passengers. This crash left a void in the hearts of many Poles.  

Today, 20 June 2010, the people of Poland have a chance to decide who will take the place of their fallen president. Will it be Broniław Komorowski, who has been leading recent polls? Or perhaps  Jarosław Kazcynski, twin brother of the late president? Only the people of Poland can choose, and today, they will cast their votes and decide.  

From my observations, the Polish electoral process is very much the same and yet still very different from that of the  United States of America. 




First, the similarities. From the bit of Polish news that I’ve watched, coverage of the election seems just as important here as back home. The news stations inform people of candidates’ places in the polls, as well as their travels around the country. 

TV election coverage, similar to the US.


  In addition, I’ve seen posters and billboards all over the city promoting the two main candidates (as well as some of the more random ones – think the Ralph Naders of Poland). In these respects, the Polish election process is very much like the American.  

One of the candidates you don't always hear about in America (think Ralph Nader)


However, this election seems so much calmer than any American election that I can remember. (True, I can only remember about three…but still.) The commercials for candidates are not awful and obnoxious like at home – in fact, it’s completely the opposite. I’ve only seen two political commercials the entire two weeks that I’ve been in Poland. I’m sure that this state of calm has to do with the circumstances surrounding the election, but it is still a very nice change from all of the crazed finger-pointing and name-calling that spouted during America’s last election.  

At about 10:00 this morning (Poland time, of course) I had the privilege of accompanying my host family to the polling station.  


It reminded me of going with my parents to vote in the Crawfordsville Legion Hall, except I didn’t know any of the people and there were Polish flags instead of American hanging on the wall. Other than that, the whole experience felt quite familiar. There was a ballot box (my host mom let me place hers into it ;) ), little “privacy boxes” for people to mark their ballots and a few stoic-looking ladies watching over the entire process (and the reason I didn’t take any pictures inside). I was surprised by how short the ballot itself was. There were instructions written at the top, and then the names of ten presidential candidates with boxes beside them. A voter simply had to check the box beside the name of their preferred candidate and put their ballot in the box. Yes, I realize that’s the same as in America, but this seemed more simple. Perhaps it’s because we’ve never had only a presidential election in America – there’s always people running for other, more local offices at the same time, making the ballot longer.  

That’s about all for today. I’ll (hopefully) update with the rest of this weekend’s events tomorrow evening.  



A sister!

Another wonderful part about going to Poland is having the privilege of hosting an exchange student of our very own! Monika from Lodz, Poland will be staying with us for the majority of the month of February. I am very much looking forward to having a “sister” of my very own, even if it’s only for a little while. :)

(Originally posted 10 January 2010)

It’s official…

…I’m going to Poland. I got the call from World Link on the Tuesday before finals week, and we called them back the next Tuesday confirming that I’m going. I’m really excited about heading overseas, especially since I’ve never had to use my passport before. (Okay, in all honesty, I have been out of the country , but it was only to Niagara Falls, Canada for a weekend, and that was back when you could cross the Canadian-American border without a passport.)
There are four other IMS students that I’ll be going to Poland with, plus one teacher. I think this group will work really well together, and I’m really excited about getting to know everyone better (I wish everyone who applied would be able to go, though!)

Things I am most excited about:
1. Going to Europe for the first time! I love history, and I think it will be really neat to be able to see so many historical places.
2. The long plane ride. Yes, this sounds crazy, but I’m really looking forward to trying to fill my time in various ways (I’m thinking I’ll be stocking up on ebooks for my iPod…huzzah for Project Gutenburg!)
3. Getting to know everyone better/making up inside jokes
4. Going to the land of my ancestors! (I’m about 25% Polish, via my mother’s ancestry)
5. Eating authentic Polish food
6. Being an “actual” exchange student and having the priviledge of really experiencing the culture (as opposed to just being a tourist).
7. Hosting an exchange student. We’ve gotten to know many superbly sweet exchange students in the past few years, and I can’t wait to meet another!

Well folks, that’s all for now. I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas (Jesus is the reason for the season!), and I wish everyone the best in 2010!

(originally posted 27 December 2009)