On April 25, 2019, the Polish-U.S. Fulbright Commission in cooperation with the U.S. Embassy and Lomza State University of Applied Sciences organized a tree-planting ceremony in memory of Michael S. Gilmor (1995-2018), Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Poland (2017-18). Michael passed away unexpectedly of aortic aneurism at his home in Huntington, New York on August 25, 2018, having just completed his year as a Fulbright ETA in Poland.
The ceremony took place in Łomża, on the grounds of Michael’s host institution, the Lomza State University of Applied Sciences. Among the invited guests who participated in the ceremony were Frank Finver, U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Counselor, Justyna Janiszewska, Polish-U.S. Fulbright Commission Executive Director, Rektor Dariusz Surowik and representatives of the Lomza State University of Applied Sciences, as well as professors and students who mentored or worked with Michael. In their official remarks, the speakers honored Michael’s memory and his involvement in educating Polish youth.
Michael Gilmor graduated summa cum laude from Providence College (2017) where he majored in biochemistry and was a member of the Liberal Arts Honors Program. Having been awarded the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship during his senior year, Michael embarked on his journey to Poland right after graduation. He selected Poland because it welcomes teaching assistants with science backgrounds and because his great-grandparents were born here.
As a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Poland, Michael taught English as a second language at Lomza State University of Applied Sciences, as well as shared his knowledge of American culture by organizing activities and lessons in public schools across Poland. Michael particularly enjoyed working with Polish youth in remote areas of the country, volunteering his time outside of the University teaching schedule to ensure as many students as possible had an opportunity to learn from an American grantee. He encouraged inclusivity during his hands-on lessons, and encouraged his students to follow their dreams. Michael lived by the principles of teaching through experience and stories, through laughter and fun, and through service.
The oak planted in Łomża (with an engraved placard that bears Michael’s name) is a living symbol of hope and healing that will ensure that Michael’s legacy lives on.