Fourteen teachers participated in a month-long Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad Study Tour of Poland in July conducted by CREES. Residents of Michigan, Indiana and Pennsylvania, they ranged from fourth grade teachers through university-level faculty. Their ranks include department chairs, curriculum specialists and teachers of social studies, geography, history and language arts. Sylvia Meloche (CREES) was the project developer and leader and was aided in Poland by her former student, Monika Ziobrowska, as translator.

    Along the way the group heard lectures by specialists on economics, education methodology and Poland‘s history. Other topics discussed were regional culture, religions, Baltic Sea pollution and wildlife. They visited schools, colleges and universities; talked with professors, teachers and students; and exchanged ideas on educational practices. Participants also spent an afternoon at private homes in Rzeszów and took part in a bonfire party at another home in Lancut.

    Among the highlights of the Study Tour were meeting Christopher Hill, the US ambassador; comparing the town squares of Warsaw and Kraków and visiting the Jewish Museum in Warsaw. The group also visited Auschwitz and Birkenau in Oswiecim, toured Malbork, the castle fortress of the Teutonic knights and visited the Hel Peninsula, the northernmost point of Poland where the Wisla River empties into the Baltic Sea. They had a private tour of Westerplatte where the Second World War began, visited the Shipyard Workers‘ Monument and the Solidarity Museum and spent two days with members of the noble Radziwill and Popiel families in Rytwiany. In close proximity to the Ukrainian and Slovak borders, they got to know highlanders in Zakopane and joined them in a regional folk dance. They had a lecture and tour of Jagiellonian university, the second oldest in Eastern Europe, founded in 1364. They saw Wit Stwosz‘s magnificent 15th-century altar in St. Mary‘s Church in Kraków and the Baroque image of the Black Madonna (the most revered in Poland) in Czestochowa.

    As follow up, participants are required to create curriculum units for teaching their students about Poland and share the units with others. Some units will be placed on the CREES outreach Web page.

    Teachers‘ ideas about Poland and Poles changed considerably during the study tour. “We didn‘t know much about Poland—that it had a golden age, that there are many Nobel laureates,” said one. “Even the common people in the street have pride in, and a knowledge of their intricate history.”

    The Journal of the International Institute , Vol. 10, No. 1, Fall 2002

    Sylvia Meloche, CREES outreach coordinator, holds MA degrees in international and comparative higher education and library science from the U-M