On November 29 at the Sofitel Warsaw Victoria Hotel, the Polish-U.S. Fulbright Commission held a sparkling gala to conclude its yearlong commemorations of the 60th anniversary of Fulbright Program in Poland. Deputy Chief of Mission B. Bix Aliu represented the U.S. Embassy at the event. Both he and Dr. Anna Budzanowska, the Director General of the Ministry of the Science and Higher Education, delivered official remarks at the special evening which included classical music performances, a small concert of Spanish guitar music, and a scintillating swing, jazz, and blues performance by Fulbright alumnus Dr. Stan Breckenridge. During the gala, the Fulbright Commission held an auction of art created by Fulbright alumni to raise additional funds for the Fulbright program. During her remarks, the Executive Director of the Fulbright Commission Justyna Janiszewska talked about the future direction of the Fulbright program; how the Fulbright Board is creating new grants in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields; how the Commission is growing the number of annual grantees each year; and how the Fulbright program is developing new host institutions partnerships in Poland. Ms. Janiszewska also gave a heartfelt tribute to former U.S. Fulbright grantee Michael Gilmor who suddenly passed away after his return to America from his 2018 grant in Poland, noting that his fellow Fulbright grantees had created a memorial fund that has raised $22,000 so far which will be used by U.S. Fulbright grantees to conduct outreach on leadership development in Poland. During his remarks, DCM Aliu called the Fulbright program “the premier educational exchange program” between Poland and the United States, hailing it for “connecting our two peoples … even during the darkest days of the Cold War.” He also thanked the Polish government for its strong commitment to the program and its continuous increase of funding for the annual $2.4 million program that sends approximately 100 Polish and American scholars per year between the finest academic and scientific institutions in Poland and the United States. Evoking Copernicus, Skłodowska-Curie, and Chopin, DCM Aliu called Poland an ideal partner for Fulbright, highlighting that “Poles are truly a brilliant nation devoted to the thirst for knowledge and achievement.”
Fulbright is the most widely recognized and prestigious international exchange program in the world. It was conceived by Senator J. William Fulbright in 1946 and aims to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries through academic, scientific, and cultural exchange. So far, over 380,000 students and scientists have participated in the program from over 160 countries. In Poland, the Fulbright Program has offered scholarships since 1959 owing to the generous and committed joint financial support of both the USA and Poland. Since its inception, more than 4,000 Poles have participated in the program. Fulbright alumni have achieved distinction in government, arts and science, business, philanthropy, education, and athletics. Worldwide, Fulbright alumni have won 59 Nobel Prizes and 84 Pulitzer Prize while 37 Fulbright alumni have served as heads of state or government.
Here is to another 60 years – and more – of the Fulbright Program in Poland!