A Winner’s Report

by Jo Louise Winters, ACPC P/R Chair

Camille Kopielski, Chair, and her Committee, for the $2,000 Scholarships for Summer Studies in Poland, awarded annually by the American Council for Polish Culture (ACPC) reported that two outstanding students have been selected by the committee for the 2012 Summer Studies in Poland. A full report on the excellent qualifications of the chosen winners will be submitted at the ACPC’s annual convention in July.

The popularity of this scholarship program has been evidenced by the enthusiastic letters of appreciation submitted by students over the past years upon their return from Poland. One of last year’s participating students was Nicholas Krol of Bloomfield, MI, a senior at Wayne State University (WSU) with a Fine Arts Major. He enrolled in an Elementary Polish class and developed a passion for the Polish language and declared a second major, Slavic Studies. He helped translate text from English to Polish at the Solidarnosc Exhibit at WSU and assisted in organizing the Slavic Department’s Polish books collection. Upon his return from his summer studies in Poland, Nicholas wrote a most interesting account of his experiences. Readers of his report will be absolutely enchanted by his full description of the University program and the weekend trips, which were a significant part of his summer experience. His report follows — enjoy!

Spending a summer studying in Poland has been a dream of mine ever since I began studying Polish Language at Wayne State University. I decided to attend a four-week intensive Polish Language course at Uniwersytet Wroclawski in order to supplement my current studies towards a Bachelor’s degree in Slavic Studies with a concentration in Polish Language. I lived in a student dormitory not too far from the University’s Polish Philology building, where all of the program’s lectures and language classes were given. Additional activities included two weekend field trips, cultural lectures during the week, Polish movies in the dormitory and trips to the city with our group leaders to explore Wroclaw’s night life. Receiving the American Council for Polish Culture (ACPC) Summer Studies in Poland Scholarship has helped make it possible for me to experience Polish culture first-hand, improve my Polish language skills tremendously and make friends from not only Poland, but all over the world who share my interests in Polish language and culture.

The accommodations in the dormitory far exceeded any of my expectations, but the true benefit was being able to practice my Polish with other students all day. Classes were held five days a week, and usually consisted of about four and a half hours of language instruction. The class sizes were very small, averaging around 10-15 students per group. On the first day of the program, we were given an exam to evaluate our knowledge of Polish language. This is how they determined who would be in what group. Every day there was a short coffee break in the morning and a longer lunch break in the afternoon. The food was generally sandwiches or pastries with coffee or tea in the morning, and for lunch it was a full traditional Polish obiad. If there was an additional cultural lecture, it would be after our last language class of the day. These lectures were about topics such as "Is it Safe to Live in Poland" and "The History of Wroclaw". All language instruction and cultural lectures were given in Polish language. Unlike a class of students who share a common native language, our instructors would have to explain all new words, topics, and even grammatical structures in Polish.

After our first week of classes, we attended a field trip around the city of Wroclaw. We began at Park Szczytnicki where we visited one of the best Japanese gardens in the country, and watched the incredible fountain there, which goes off every hour to a variety of music. Then we took a boat ride on the Odra to Stare Miasto (Old Town), where we were taught about interesting tales and legends of Wroclaw. The next week we took a trip by bus around Lower Silesia to see the Table Mountains (Gory Stolowe) on the Czech border, a museum in an old paper factory and a spa to taste some mineral water. Contemporary and classic Polish films were shown in the dormitory every week. Spending time with my fellow classmates and the group leaders (Polish Masters students of Polish Philology at Uniwersytet Wroclawski) gave me the opportunity to practice my Polish at all times.

I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity to study in Poland and would like to thank the ACPC for awarding me the Summer Study Scholarship. It helped make my dream of studying in Poland as part of my undergraduate degree a possibility. With this I have gained priceless experience by being immersed in Polish language and culture, and an unforgettable month in the beautiful city of Wroclaw.

American Council for Polish Culture (ACPC) President Deborah Majka and all of the Council’s officers and members are highly pleased that the ACPC Scholarships for Summer Studies in Poland program has invariably had students showing appreciation for this singular opportunity as demonstrated by Krol’s report above. The benefits to the participating students clearly demonstrate that they have gained an invaluable educational and cultural experience and considerably increased their appreciation for their Polish Heritage. Parents and grandparents are urged to have their high school or college youngsters apply next year or in the following years for a possible wonderful opportunity of their lifetimes.