Dr hab. Anna Mazurkiewicz
Associate Professor at the Faculty of History, University of Gdansk
The current President of the Polish American Historical Association (2017-2018). She published three monographs: two on the American responses to elections of 1947 and 1989 in Poland, and on the role of the political exiles from East Central Europe in American Cold War politics (1948-1954). She edited three volumes and authored texts published in Poland, USA, UK, France, and Germany. Her scholarly interests include United States after World War II; US-Polish diplomatic relations; political activity of refugees from East Central Europe in the United States after World War II; political emigration from East Central Europe in 1945-1989. Mazurkiewicz was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Notre Dame, Central European University (Budapest), Kosciuszko Foundation Scholar at the University of Minnesota, Senior Fulbright Scholar at Stanford University (Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies).
As a Kosciuszko Foundation Visiting Professor she taught courses in Polish and Polish-American history at State University of New York at Buffalo and currently at Valdosta State University (Georgia).
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On November 9th 2018 at Valdosta State University, Dr hab. Anna Mazurkiewicz in cooperation with Ewa Barczyk, John P. Dunn (VSU) and Ivan Nikolov (VSU), organized:
"Conference Celebrating the Centennial of Poland's Rebirth in Georgia."
Valdosta – Students, faculty, and local citizens attended a conference celebrating the centennial of Poland's rebirth on 9 November 2018. Sponsored by the History Department of Valdosta State University (VSU), it was also supported by the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Washington D.C., the Polish American Historical Association, the Kosciuszko Foundation, and the Faculty of History, University of Gdańsk (UG).
The conference featured four components: academic papers, a Polish lunch and trivia game, a student essay competition, and a film screening. Organized by visiting professor Anna Mazurkiewicz (UG) and John Dunn (VSU), their goal was to provide an introduction to Poland's history and culture. This started with a collection of posters graciously provided by the Polish Embassy in Washington. These gave a real sense of the tremendous strides made by Poland in the last 30 years, along with enticing images that encourage students to consider a study abroad experience in 2019.
Mazurkiewicz established a focus of academic presentations, one that showed how America responded to crises in Polish history. The keynote speaker, Dr. Neal Pease, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (UWM), started with a concise look at why Poland's rebirth was important in an international context. Dunn followed up with an account of Paul Eve, the only native-born American who served with insurgents during the November Insurrection (1831), while Dr. Mathew Adams, Savannah State University, told of the many American connections to Poland's 1918-1921 struggles, ranging from the Grey Samaritans to the Kościuszko Squadron. The academic papers concluded with Mazurkiewicz explaining 1980s America's part in "Poland's way out of Communism."
With a sense that students were still hungry for knowledge about Poland, the next component featured an east-central European lunch. Guests were offered barszcz, bigos(regular and vegan), piernik and of course pierogi. Dr. Yakov Woldman, VSU Chemistry, earned a special distinction for making 100 of the pierogi Russian style, while Ewa Barczyk gained honor for bringing a suitcase full of pierogi and sausage from Milwaukee. An hour later, only a few slices of bread remained on the tables.
Barczyk, former director of the Library at UWM continued support for the conference by allowing students to submit encyclopedia entries for her upcoming book, A Guide to Polish Historical Sites in North America. Two students produced entries worthy of reward: Ms. Logan Mabey of Georgia, and Ms. Aylar M Chijayeva, a native of Turkmenistan. Both obtained a certificate, plus an award of $50.
The conference concluded with a screening of the Fourth Partition. This 2013 documentary directed by Adrian Prawica, tells the story of Polish emigration to America, all the way back to Jamestown. Following this, select participants enjoyed a celebratory banquet. Rumor has it Żubrówka, complete with bison grass, may have been served.
Participants judged the conference a success, as it helped cement the already good relations between Gdańsk and Valdosta Universities. Future plans include continuing exchanges of professors and students, while furthering a mutual interest in Polish History.
"I consider the Kosciuszko Foundation a living monument, an outstanding tribute to the lasting legacy of the "hero of both nations". Through its many activities fostering understanding between the two nations, it brings together Polish, American and Polish-American students, scholars, artists, entrepreneurs, publishers as well as many associations striving to cultivate friendly transatlantic ties. As the oldest, continuously operating organization of its kind the Kosciuszko Foundation unceasingly enjoys the highest esteem and admiration for its achievements in strengthening the Polish-American ties. I will forever be grateful for the support offered to me by the foundation in the early stages of my academic career, as well as crucial support granted in the recent years that provided for my personal development, expanded research opportunities, which resulted in a series of well-received publications, and improvement of my teaching skills. Moreover, I must add that the Kosciuszko Foundation gave me an opportunity to build and strengthen the transatlantic scholarly networks – mostly in the area of migration and Polish-American studies. Following my first Kosciuszko Foundation grant, I became involved in the work of the Polish American Historical Association. Ten years later I was elected the President of PAHA. This marks the first time in this organization's seventy-year-long history that a scholar permanently working, affiliated and residing in Poland (University of Gdansk) was entrusted this honor. During my recent KF scholarship (September 2018), with the help of many prominent PAHA Board members, I have organized the 75th Anniversary of PAHA in Chicago. This was the most important and yet, not the only significant academic initiative that allowed for Poland's promotion in the US and vice-versa which was made possible by the support of the Foundation (both financial and honorary). Among these, there are academic conferences organized at the Museum of Emigration in Gdynia (Poland) and most recently in November 2018 at the Valdosta State University (Georgia). Thus I can attest, that by granting its support to both upcoming and seasoned scholars from Poland the Kosciuszko Foundation helps build solid foundations for future generations to keep Poland and Polish-Americans on the American agenda."
– Dr hab. Anna Mazurkiewicz