2016 Polonia Forum

From the 1st FORUM offorum logo 03
AMERICAN POLONIA 

in Rzeszów, Poland

A personal account shared by David Rydzewski,
the newly elected President of the PAC-Wisconsin Division


July 26, 2016 began 5 days of the 1st Forum of American Polonia (Forum Polonii Amerykańskiej) aiming to showcase and support economic development of the Podkarpacki region located in the far southeast of Poland. The program was sponsored by the government of Podkarpackie Voivodeship and Association “Polish Community(Stowarzyszenie “Wspólnota Polska”).

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Among over 100 invited guests were 44 members of the Polish American Congress (PAC) from around the United States, including its President Frank Spula, VP Maria Szonert-Binienda, and VP Dr. Mark Pienkos, as well as dozens of members of World Polonia members from Canada, UK, France, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Lithuania and Germany. For the PAC members, this was the first gathering ever outside the United States.

Leading the conference was Władysław Ortyl, the marshal of Podkarpackie Voivodeship who spoke     CLICK HERE for PHOTO GALLERY      before members of Polish government, the Podkarpacki Parliament, Polish clergy, Polish military and Polish business leaders. The message was clear: Podkarpacie and entire Poland have achieved much from the hard work of its people as well as from its EU and NATO memberships. They have excellent universities and technical schools, a robustly educated work force and efficient government; but there is still much to do.

The reason for extending invitation to the PAC and other members of World Polonia, was Polonia’s deep love and attachment to the motherland, along with a history of help and support for Poland that started long before there was an EU. With a better understanding of the region’s vast potential, it is believed that business ties and networking skills of the PAC members will be used to promote and aid Poland in its continued growth and development.

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The conference spent its first day in the chambers of the Podkarpacki Parliament and the next two days at the impressive, newly built conference and convention center near Rzeszów, the region’s capital. These days of constructive discussions and planning for the future were followed by travels into the region to see its cities, countryside and people. It’s one thing to hear the upbeat message of economic development and progress – but seeing the beautiful towns and witnessing successful efforts to blend old traditions and culture with modern ways of life speaks to what Poland cherishes.

The tours led us to the wooden church at Blizne, the skansen in Sanok, the magnificent Łańcut Palace , the Ulma Family Museum of Poles Savings Jews in World War II in Markowa as well as cities of Krosno, Lubaczów, and Przemyśl. They are all amazing places by themselves but taken together, they gave us a truly unforgettable experience.

For some fellow participants, these travels took them back to their roots. Returning after many years to Przemyśl, PAC member Grażyna Michalski from New York was extremely proud to show the city of her birth to other PAC members.

The forum was also a time of real pride for Dr. Mark Pienkos as his grandfather came to the United States from Rzeszów in the early 1900’s. Now Mark and his American family retain close ties to their Polish family living in Podkarpacie.

My fellow PAC members and I were very glad to have been invited to Polish Podkarpacie, and want to extend our profound thanks to all those who hosted us so graciously.

From my experience, I can say that Polonia loves Poland.

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Thursday, August 18th, 2016 Newsletter