Study Tours to Poland (STP) are study visits to Poland for students and professionals from Eastern European countries. Getting to know Poland and exchange experiences on democratic and free-market transition, building the rule of law and strengthening local communities and citizens’ initiatives are the main purposes of the visits.
Study Tours to Poland was established in 2004 and is part of the Program of the Polish-American Freedom Foundation “Transformation in the Region” – RITA implemented in 2000 by the Education for Democracy Foundation. Since 2007, the Jan Nowak-Jezioranski College of Eastern Europe from Wroclaw has been the coordinator of STP.
The Study Tours to Poland – visits by professionals.
As part of short-term study visits, representatives from local governments, government administrations, employees of central state institutions and other professional groups have the opportunity to learn about the Polish achievements in terms of political transformations and experience the “Polish way” of becoming a member of the European Union. Visits are organized in small groups, in cooperation with Polish NGOs, government and local government units and central state institutions. To date, the STP has been mainly attended by representatives of Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Moldova and Georgia.
Students’ visit – fall 2018
In 2018 from 4th to 14th of November, 12 students from Belarus, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine visited the Tri-City. The program of the meeting began with integration workshops and workshops during which the participants pondered the definition and the meaning of terms: democracy, transformation and active citizen. Each participant determined their own motivation for social activities and milestones that helped in choosing this path of development. They also met with employees of the European Solidarity Center, including Solidarity Everyday, who talked about the activities and mission of the center. In the afternoon, together with the guide, they visited the permanent exhibition at the European Solidarity Center, showing the Polish path to political changes after 1945. The higher education system was presented during visits to the University of Gdańsk. Various aspects and functions of universities were presented: from educational to help in professional development, comparison of Polish educational system with the systems of other students’ origin countries. Program participants met with an employee of the UG’s foreign cooperation department who talked about the higher education system, the offer of the University of Gdańsk and a 5th year political student, a student government representative, who also showed the group the UG campus. Dr. Marta Koval presented the higher education system in Poland. Knowledge about social animation and local development were the topics of meetings at the Neighborhood House, the Young Wrzeszczak Club, with representatives of the Gdańsk Agglomeration Development Forum and with the Local Guide of Zaspa. All initiatives are conducted by the community members and because of the community members’ needs. The activities are perfect example of self-organization of a group of people seeking change in their nearest surrounding. The inclusion of citizens in decision-making processes was also described during a meeting at the Sopot City Hall and a presentation on the civic budget, while the role of local government was discussed during a visit to the City Hall in Kartuzy. A visit to the Kashubian Museum was a starting point for reflection on building local identity and the role of ethnic minorities in building the state and their contribution to the development of culture. The Tatar’s lunch at the Ethnographic Museum in Gdańsk was opportunity for reflection on the integration and inclusion of new residents of Gdańsk in cultural activities. The benefits of Poland’s accession to the European Union were discussed during a meeting with representatives of the Europe Direct Point run by the Morena Association. Meetings and conversations with employees of Occupational Therapy Workshops in Gdańsk, the Social Integration Center in Sopot and the LUK LUK charity store provided knowledge about the activities of non-governmental organizations in the area of social integration and professional activation of groups at risk of social exclusion, including people with disabilities, long-term unemployed or former homeless.
The opportunity to learn about the culture of Poland and Pomerania was a visit to Tri-City and Kartuzy and the Emigration Museum in Gdynia and the Kashubian Museum in Kartuzy.
No less important aspect of the visit was the integration of participants with young people from Poland. It was possible during the Pole’s Day. On Sunday (November the 11th) each participant spent the entire day with one person from Poland, with student(s) or the whole family. The program of the day was at the disposal of the volunteers who showed the participants the Tri-City, their family home, and a traditional Sunday afternoon. Participants also had the opportunity to present the culture of their countries during prepared and conducted workshops for different age groups. They were held at the Tuptus Integration Kindergarten in Sopot, the University of Gdańsk, the Ecological Social School in Rumia and Primary School No. 61 in Gdańsk.
visit of students- Spring 2016
Between 2nd – 13th May 2016 twelve students from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine visited Tricity to get to know the most significant aspects of polish socio-political reality and the success of 25 years of liberty in Poland. The day started with integration workshop and workshop on the cross-cultural education during which we talked about a different approach towards culture and its constituents. The students were discussing cultural differences and their importance during studio visit. In the afternoon we visited European Solidarity Centre whose mission is to commemorate the processes of the transformation in Poland and also to bond the past with the future. The participants visited the exhibition and shipyard in Gdansk and also got familiar with the organization and what they do. The system of the higher education was presented during the visit on the University of Gdańsk and Pomeranian Academy in Slupsk. The students learned that there are various aspects and functions of the higher education- not only gaining the higher degree but also help in professional development and the openness to diverse age groups, seniors included. The participants met the manager of the department of international cooperation of the university of Gdansk – Mr. Adam Bączkowski, who told them about the higher education system, the offer of the university and participants had a chance to walk around the campus together with coordinators and auditors of the University of the Third Age in Slupsk and Pomeranian Academic Career Centre in Slupsk. The visit in Entrepreneurship Incubator in Slupsk showed the students how the institution supports the development on the innovative economy and how to join the business with the science and social activities. The meeting with the Urban Culture Institute representatives in Gdansk and the Centre on the Modern Art Łaźnia was a chance to meet the cultural and social autonomous operations and social activation of the residents. The visit in Kaszebe Radio and in Gazeta Wyborcza headquarter showed the role and the function of the media in Poland. The advantages of being a member of the European Union were discussed during the meeting with the employees of Europe Direct Point that is run by Morena Association and with European volunteers that were in Gdansk. The scope of duties and the role of autonomous administration were presented during visits in Marshal’s Office of Pomeranian County, the City Hall in Slupsk and in Gdansk. The activities of non-governal organizations were shown by the employees of Morena Association, The Centre of Volunteers in Slupsk and the Centre of Civil Initiatives. The participants got to know the operations of occupational and social reintegration of people endangered by social exclusion basing on the Centre of Occupational Integration in Sopot that is run by the Association of Brother Albert. Young businessmen that run the hostel and a social co-op in Sopot told about the conditions of the development of the enterprise in Poland. During this visit the participants had a chance to meet the leaders of social life: the President Lech Wałęsa, the President of Slupsk Robert Biedron, the Chairman of City Board Bogdan Oleszak, the leader of initiatives and social consultations of City Hall in Gdansk. The opportunity to get to know the polish and Pomeranian culture was a Polish evening, the visit to the Middle Pomerania Museum in Slupsk, the Museum of Emigration in Gdynia, visiting the TriCity, Slups and participation in concerts. Equally important was the integration of the visitors and the youth of Poland. It was possible during the visit in the Gdansk University organized by Polish students, integration evenings to which Polish and foreign students were invited. The participants had also a chance to presents their country’s culture during the multicultural evening organized in the Library under the Turtle in Gdansk. The accommodation in a dormitory in Slupsk was a chance to get to know everyday life of Polish students a little better.
On April 17-23, 2016, we hosted 15 representatives of the local government from the Odessa region in Ukraine in the Tri-City. The seven-day study visit program presented the functioning of the Polish local government and the implementation of the tasks of the community, city, county and voivodeship. The visit program began with a meeting at the Marshal’s Office, during which the history of local government reform and the structure of Polish local government were presented, with particular emphasis on the voivodeship’s tasks. The meeting was attended by the Marshal of the Pomeranian Voivodeship and representatives of the Association of Pomeranian Municipalities and the Free Entrepreneurship Association. There was a meeting with the Head of Social Communication at the Gdańsk City Hall about social consultations and civic budget. The topic of the development of participatory democracy and the involvement of residents in shaping urban space and spending the city budget were discussed.
A visit to the European Solidarity Centre, whose mission is to commemorate transformation processes in Poland, as well as connecting the past with the future, helped understand the beginnings of transformation in Poland. The tasks of the county were discussed during the visit to the County Office in Kościerzyna. At the meeting, employees of various departments presented their tasks and the way of their implementation. Special attention was paid to the execution of tasks in the field of education and social care by the county. For this purpose, we visited an upper secondary school and the District Family Support Center. The vast majority of the visit was devoted to the tasks of the commune, in particular the functioning of the rural commune. In Kobylnica, participants at a meeting with the Head of the Commune, Mr. Leszek Kuliński, learned about issues related to the budget and sources of financing the commune’s tasks. They also visited small and medium-sized companies. The development of infrastructure and communal ownership were presented based on issues related to water and sewage management, road investments, cubature investments and sports and recreation. In Kobylnica, participants were presented with ways of using renewable energy sources and activities for energetic efficiency increase / thermomodernization /. In the Puc rural commune, the participants explored the topics EU grants utilization, cooperation of local government units with non-governmental organizations and commissioned tasks, as well as the organization and authorization of a medical service on the example of a private health center. The meeting with the employees of the Pomeranian Agricultural Advisory Center in Lubań aimed to present the development of agriculture in Pomerania, as well as the history and utilization of former state-owned farms. Participants visited the apiary and learned about the development of beekeeping. At a meeting in the Gdynia City Hall Mr. Marek Stępa talked about the organization of transport, and a visit to the Pomeranian Science and Technology Park in Gdynia was an opportunity to talk about the growth of entrepreneurship in the Pomeranian province by stimulating and restructuring the regional economy.