Vol. 10, Issue No. 29/2003



Responding positively to last springıs invitation from Dean Anthony J. Bajdek, President of the Polish American Congress of Eastern Massachusetts, Polandıs Ambassador to the United States, Dr. Przemyslaw Grudzinski, spent more than two full days in February engaged with Greater Bostonıs Polonia in a series of venues scheduled by PAC/E. Mass., the Ambassadorıs official host.

On Thursday night, February 20, the PAC/E. Mass. Board of Directors hosted a private dinner for Ambassador Grudzinski and Consul General Agnieszka Magdziak-Miszewska in Americaıs oldest ongoing restaurant, The Union Oyster House, established in the late 18th century and located in close proximity to Faneuil Hall.

On Friday, the Board of Directors hosted a luncheon for the Ambassador and Consul General in Northeastern Universityıs Faculty Center, at which the Universityıs Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Ahmed Abdelal, not only extended the official greetings of the University, and participated in the entire luncheon, but also reached an agreement with Ambassador Grudzinski to the suggestion of Bajdek, an Associate Dean and Senior Lecturer in History at the University, that Northeastern University, known for the strength of its academic and research programs in engineering and the physical sciences, establish a relationship with a similar Polish university.

Following the luncheon, Ambassador Grudzinski made a formal presentation on the topic, "Poland and the European Union", to faculty and staff, along with 51 graduate and undergraduate students majoring in international relations. His presentation was sponsored by the Universityıs Department of Political Science and International Affairs, the International Student and Scholar Institute, the Student Government Association, and the Division of Student Affairs, as well as by PAC/E. Mass. Within an hourıs time following his presentation, the Ambassador, Dean Bajdek, Vice President of PAC/E. Mass. Alicja Altenberger, and Honorary Consul RP for New England, Marek Lesniewski-Laas, drove to Salem, Massachusetts where they began with a private tour of the Peabody Essex Museum, established in 1799, thus making it Americaıs oldest museum, known for itıs early 19th century "China trade" collection, a one-of-a-kind collection in the United States. In the course of the tour of the Museum, Salemıs Mayor, Stanley Usovicz, presented the Ambassador with an official proclamation welcoming him to Salem. The Ambassadorıs entourage was given a further treat arranged by Dean Bajdek, of a beautifully sung a capella performance by Polish-born Katarzyna Sokalla of lyrics to several Chopin and Moniuszko works, and then finishing with the Bogarodzica.

From the Museum, the Ambassadorıs entourage next proceeded to St. John the Baptist Parish Church and Polish parish on St. Peter Street where in a formal ceremony, the Ambassador spoke to parishioners and parish pastor, Rev Stanislaw Parfienczyk, inside the architecturally stunning, Federal-style church that was built in 1826 as a Baptist church, congratulating them on the occasion of the 100th anniversary year of the parish being founded (1903-2003), and presenting the parish with an official keepsake  Ambassadorial congratulatory letter.

Later that evening, PAC/E. Mass. hosted a private dinner in honor of the Ambassador in Salemıs beautiful Hawthorne Hotel, located a short distance by foot from both the Museum and St. John the Baptist Church, with the Hotel itself being a U. S. National Register, early19th century edifice.

On Saturday, February 22, afternoon and evening, after spending the morning in South Bostonıs Our Lady of Czestochowa Church and Parishıs Polish Saturday School, the Ambassador and Consul General were driven by the Honorary Consul to Northeastern Universityıs Henderson House Conference, a late 19th century U. S. National Register edifice as well, in Weston, Massachusetts for the 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Second Annual Kosciuszkoıs Birthday ­ Washingtonıs Birthday Political Forum and Banquet of PAC/E. Mass., which was attended by 87 members of Polonia. Ambassador Grudzinski was the keynote speaker for the Forum. His topic, "Poland and the Future of Transatlantic Relations", along with questions from the audience, lasted for an hour and a half, and focused heavily on Polandıs support of President George W. Bushıs strategy for dealing with Sadam Husseinıs threat to the stability of the Middle East and the world, and the need for Poland to become a member of the European Union.

Following the Banquet, Ambassador Grudzinski awarded the Officerıs Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland to Mr. Charles Merrill of Boston, well-known philantropist and long-lived supporter of Polandıs educational system. Dean Bajdek then presented the Polonia Activist Award of PAC/E. Mass. to Mr. Walter Stanko of Swansea, Massachusetts, a World War II veteran of the United States 9th Infantry Division, for collecting personally over 13,000 signatures, at the rate of some 500 per month in the Narragansett Bay area, in the national campaign to have the United States Postal Service issue in 1995 a commemorative stamp in honor of Americaıs most decorated combat soldier, a Polish American whose surname had been shortened from Urbanowicz, Lt. Col. Matt Louis Urban (1919-1995), also a member of the 9th Infantry Division. The Banquet ended with a stirring piano performance by Canadian young virtuosa, Berenika Zakrzewska, of the music of Fryderyk Chopin. Ms. Zakrzewska is a junior at Harvard University. The Ambassadorıs visit to Boston was a never to be forgotten experience.

Anthony J. Bajdek

Vol. 10, Issue No. 29/2003

The Summit Times

İ Copyright 2003 by Andrzej M. Salski