ACPC Youth Conference 2005

Report by Monica Parys,
Intern at the Polish American Congress office in Washington DC

The Youth Leadership Conference presented by the American Council for Polish Culture offers a very valuable experience for today’s young Polish-Americans. It provides young students with the opportunity to see the role that fellow Polonians play in the hub of political activism, our nation’s capital, Washington D.C. Not only does the conference instill young Polish-Americans with a pride in their heritage, it also motivates and inspires them to strive to attain leadership positions in the future. The Conference’s jam-packed daily agenda has students meeting with a number of prominent professionals, among them were distinguished academics, leading executives, renowned attorneys, executive journalists and American and Polish government officials. These meetings offered us a chance to have an up close and personal introduction into a number of leadership positions in a variety of fields such as: international business, foreign affairs, U.S government and journalism. The intimate setting allows for students to ask specific questions pertaining to their own interests. And as leadership is the focal point of the conference, we were educated about essential leadership skills from the leaders themselves.

As I begin to investigate potential career paths, I have also begun to contemplate the possibility of somehow intertwining my background into my future profession. The Youth Leadership Conference presented me with a range of professions which would allow me to do just that, such as with our meeting with Stan Glod, Vice President for Central Europe of the of Boeing company. Stan Glod is not only responsible for eleven countries in the Central European region, he was also based in Warsaw Poland from 1998 to 2002, where he served as senior regional executive. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Glod one on one and ask him detailed questions on the steps I would need to take to obtain a position such as his and the people I would need to contact.

The conference gave us the opportunity to meet with professionals in a variety of different divisions of the political field, from governmental (the Department of Commerce), to international (the Embassy of the Republic of Poland), to private (the McguireWoods law firm). By meeting with individuals who work in different sectors of politics, I was able to distinguish which branch of the political field I would like to pursue. The in-depth explanation of the every day tasks presented to us by the Department of Commerce provided me with a beneficial insider’s perspective of what a career with the Department of Commerce would entail. In addition, had I not attended the conference I would have never known opportunities such as the Presidential Management Fellowship were offered in the Department of Commerce.

The Embassy of the Republic of Poland proved to be a very valuable visit as well, for it informed us of all of the present-day issues in Polish-American relations. The Embassy touched on a few issues which I had previously heard my family in Poland discuss and it was extremely fascinating to hear this information straight from the source. The embassy spoke on the current visa waiver act, an issue which in fact I have encountered as an intern for the Polish American Congress. The information which we received from the embassy on this issue has allowed me to become much more familiar with the matter.

However, the most important aspect that I took away from the Youth Leadership Conference was the relationships I established with the other students. The conference presented me with the opportunity to meet young Polish people like myself. Throughout the week I formed a bond with these individuals as we compared the similarities of our Polish upbringings. Above all I was inspired by all of their accomplishments, seeing as I was in the company of such a bright and talented group of individuals.

In all I am thrilled that I had the opportunity to attend the Youth Leadership Conference. It is truly a character building experience and allows young budding professionals to move one step further in finalizing the blueprint of their future.