American Students in Poznań

               The Institute of Sociology at Adam Mickiewicz University and the Center for Youth Vocational Guidance in Poznań recently hosted guests from the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. Eleven students and two instructors, Drs. Kathleen Farkas and Richard Romaniuk, visited the city from March 10th to March 17th.

Their trip was one of the results of Bogna Frąszczak’s visit to Cleveland in 2008 as part of the International Visitor Leadership Program organized by the United States Department of State. During her visit at the Polish-American Cultural Center, she met Dr. Romaniuk, and the two decided to organize a student exchange. After three years of negotiations and two visits by Dr. Romaniuk to the Department of Social Work at the Institute of Sociology directed by Dr. Anna Michalska, the visit of the CWRU students was organized, as the start of what is to be a cooperative relationship between the two universities. Cultural Attaché Andrew Paul of the United States Embassy in Poland and Krzysztof Podemski, Dean of Social Sciences at Adam Mickiewicz University, participated in the inaugural ceremony marking this cooperation. Paul accompanied the students and guests at a meeting with high school graduates in Poznań thinking of continuing their studies in the United States. During this meeting at the Center for Youth Vocational Guidance, the students from Cleveland presented the advantages and disadvantages of American higher education and shared their practical knowledge of studying in different academic fields at universities throughout the United States.

At Adam Mickiewicz University the CWRU students participated in seven lectures given by sociologists from Poznań and in a Polish-American symposium dedicated to the exchange of experiences in the area of solving social problems. The symposium included a presentation of evidence-based practices in social policy. The academic part of the students’ visit also included field trips to social service agencies in Poznań, such as the Association of Social Emergency, a center for the homeless; the Wielkopolska Center for Mutual Aid sponsored by the MONAR Society, a non-governmental organization that aids the homeless and those with AIDS and problems of addiction; and the “Center” Center for Community Action. The students also met with city officials such as Elżbieta Dybowska, Vice-Director of the Division of Health and Social Affairs, and Michał Kaczmarek, representing the “Academic Poznań” group. Dybowska presented the principles behind community programs meant to address problems of drug and alcohol addiction.

Such an active academic program did not allow for too many cultural offerings, but the students did visit Poznań and the local area as much as possible. They attended a performance of the show Magistryton in the “U Przyjaciół” Theater and visited Ostrów Tumski, one of the city’s most important neighborhoods, the Old Town, and the June 1956 Museum and the National Museum. In the Arkady Fiedler Muzeum in Puszczyków, they met with Krystyna Fiedler, the leader of the program, „Leaders of the Polish-American Foundation of Liberty”.

The CWRU students also met with students in social work from Adam Mickiewicz University and scholarship students from the Lane Kirkland Program. These meetings offered the young students from different cultures a chance to discuss their views and different life experiences. The Lane Kirkland students had the chance to present information about the countries they call home, while the students from Poznań and Cleveland shared information about their experiences as students and young adults.

 

Bogna and Ksenia Frąszczak