In honor of World Mental Health Day on October 10, the U.S. Embassy-supported American Corner in Radom hosted the online conference Capture and Focus that addressed staying optimistic and confident in difficult times. Conceived of by Julia Mazurek, a Polish high school student and alumna of the U.S. Department of State’s Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) program, the conference featured three speakers that included Cultural Affairs Officer Dan Hastings, film-maker and music company founder Derrick Ogrodny, and U.S. Fulbright Alumna Pamela Howland who joined the Zoom conference from her home in the United States. Drawing on his background growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Dan Hastings spoke about “The California Way of Life” while Derrick Ogrodny spoke about the importance of believing in oneself to achieve one’s goals. Ms. Howland, who was a musical studies Fulbright Scholar at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan in 2017-2018, played world heritage music classics on the piano to emphasize the importance of optimism in an uncertain world.
The conference was a result of the joint initiative between the U.S. Embassy and American Councils in Poland that matches Polish alumni of the FLEX exchange program with more experienced mentors who provide professional and personal development support (#flexmentoringprogram). The mentorship program also provides inspirational mentees like Ms. Mazurek with small grants to organize projects that alumni identify as a need in their local communities. The Embassy would like to thank Julia Mazurek, the American Corner in Radom, Ms. Howland, Mr. Ogrodny, and American Councils in Poland for supporting this wonderful initiative to commemorate World Mental Health Day and encourage one another with positive thinking in these difficult times.