Polish exchange students visit DelVal

Oct 11, 2011

DelVal held an Oct. 10 lunch in the student center for four students and one faculty member from The University of Podlasie in Siedlce, Poland. The students are participants in the Piszek/Evans/Diamond Exchange program.

They arrived Oct. 5 for a 10-day visit.

The program is in its fifth year. In May, four DelVal students traveled with DelVal faculty member Michael Fleischacker to Poland for the annual exchange.

“It is a great pleasure to be working with the program for the second year,” said Svetlana Shkitko, a DelVal faculty member who has served as the exchange coordinator for the past two years. “We had an exceptional welcome in Poland and it is a pleasure to be able to bring students from Poland to DelVal.”

DelVal students who participated in the program said what they most remember about the trip to Poland was the hospitality.

The students visiting from Poland are: Dominika Mlynarczuk, Ewa Krasnodebska, Adam Makolewski, Lukasz Czarnocki.

All four are studying agriculture. Agriculture professor Halina Kaluza is accompanying them.

“It’s a tremendous program,” said College President Dr. Joseph S. Brosnan of the exchange. “I think it is really growing and developing.”

The students from Poland spoke English and said that they take English in school starting in middle school.

When students from DelVal came to their university, they helped with the visit and traveled with the DelVal students.

When they came to the U.S., the students who went to Poland helped welcome them to DelVal.

It was Mlynarczuk’s first time visiting another country.

“The people here are very friendly and nice,” said Mlynarczuk.

Back home, she said, she participates in agriculture club.

She also worked with other students to help create a large-scale art project made of flowers in Warsaw this year to commemorate the Polish Presidency of the European Union.

Makolewski said he liked the U.S. and that everyone he met has been friendly.

This is his first time visiting the U.S. and he was excited to see Long Island and the Atlantic Ocean.

Krasnodebska enjoys traveling and said she has visited the United Kingdom, Spain and Germany.

Galen Weibley, a DelVal student who traveled to Poland with the exchange, said the Polish students will be spending a night in one of DelVal’s residence halls.

“It will be a good opportunity to talk to other students (that they haven’t already met),” said Weibley.

On Oct. 6, the students visited Doylestown’s Mercer Museum and went on a campus tour. The college held a welcome reception in the Shapiro Wing of the library and a dinner that night at Chambers restaurant in Doylestown.

The exchange took the students to Philadelphia, New York City and The National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, in Doylestown.

On Oct. 11 they visited Longwood Gardens. Later, the Student Government Board had a dinner planned where the Polish students would meet more DelVal students.

A visit to the Rodale Institute in Kutztown, Pa., also was on the agenda. The institute recently completed a 30-year study comparing organic farming to conventional farming. The study is the nation’s longest running side-by-side comparison and it found that organic farming is superior.

The Polish agriculture students will get to learn about this comparison during their visit.

Makolewski’s parents have an organic farm in Poland.

The students were very interested to learn about agriculture in the U.S., particularly genetically modified organisms.

During the lunch, they were able to talk to Dean of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Russell Redding, who is a former Pennsylvania secretary of agriculture. He currently chairs a national Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture.

The exchange program was established in 2007 and is free for students. It is funded by the Copernicus Society of America, which was established by the late Edward J. Piszek.

Piszek started Mrs. Paul’s Kitchesn, a successful frozen food company that he later sold to Campbell’s. He was proud of his Polish heritage and gave millions to battle tuberculosis in Poland. He also spent $500,000 on a newspaper campaign to educate the public about Polish culture.

His daughter, Helen Piszek Nelson, had the idea to create the exchange program and worked with retired Dean Dr. James Diamond to get it started.

Mrs. Nelson became a member of DelVal’s Board of Trustees in 2011. She took part in the exchange events and met the Polish students and their professor.

Both Mrs. Nelson and Dr. Diamond feel that travel and being exposed to other cultures is an important part of an education.

“When students get a chance to go to other countries, meet people from other cultures, there’s a certain amount of global education that develops,” said Mrs. Nelson in an interview after joining the board. “I think that type of education is important in today’s world.”

Dr. Diamond loves Poland and the Polish people and is proud to see the program in its fifth successful year.

“The exchange was an idea that unfolded into a very successful effort,” said Dr. Diamond.