Polish Community Support Creates Student Opportunities
As part of a series of fund raising initiatives, the Polish Canadian Congress Manitoba Branch organized a fund raiser with special guest speaker former Winnipegger, General Walter Natynczyk , CMM, MSC, Cd, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and former president of the Canadian Space Agency. Natynczyk, a second generation Polish-Canadian, talked about his heritage, overcoming hardships, and how his roots helped him mold the passion for his military career.
The Polish community’s support of the Polish Studies Endowment Fund continues since the 1990’s with the goal to secure the offering of language and culture courses on an annual basis. The innovative programming is not limited to heritage learners; the courses also enhance learning for students engaged in fields such as medicine, economics, immigration studies, global networking, minority issues and cultural and linguistic communication.
“I gained so much from being a student in the University of Manitoba Polish Studies program. I immediately got more involved in the Polish Students’ Association where I was fortunate to serve as President for two terms. Following that, I combined my love of Polish culture with my passion for science and applied to the “Poznan University of Medical Sciences – Faculty of Medicine” (Poznan, Poland) where I am currently studying. I never imagined that I would end up in Poland to further my education, but here I am.”(Matthew Bzura, Faculty of Science Graduate)
In 1954 the Polish Studies Program was established to promote, preserve and enhance the study of the Polish language and culture. The Endowment Fund roots grew from the humble beginnings of the last two waves of immigrants from Poland: Post World War II Displaced Persons and the 1980’s immigrants fleeing Poland’s communist regime.
“I am very proud of my Polish background. In the Polish Program I learned about the country of my parents and the hardships they endured through the communist era of Poland. This knowledge made me realize how much easier I have it. I owe my fluency in the Polish language firstly to my parents, but also to the Polish Program. Additionally, I have been to Poland twice in the last four years. … I would like to promote the Polish language, and share my enthusiasm for the Polish culture, to do that I will begin broadcasting a monthly one hour segment on Radio Polonia, as President of the Sokol Sports Club.”(Krzysztof Kwapiszewski, Bachelor of Arts)
In addition to the Polish Studies Endowment Fund, there are a number of scholarships that support the U of M Polish program. The Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Toronto and the Victor Turek Prize for Polish Studies which has awarded scholarships yearly since it was first established in 2007. In addition the Victor Turek Study Abroad Scholarship was first awarded in the summer of 2012.
“The most valuable experience within the Polish program is meeting new people and connecting with the Winnipeg Polish community. This has led me to join the Polish Student Association (PSA) and recently become the new Secretary General of the student group. PSA has provided me a university experience that isn’t just about studying.” (Kamillah El-Giadaa, Recreation Management and Community Development)
“The Polish Program exposed me to a new culture, I was able to learn about Polish culture from individuals who have experienced it or were raised in it. This created a richer learning environment. Also, the Polish Program teaches a variety of skills such as: how to conduct an academic interview, writing skills, and how to appreciate and analyze international films and literature. These skills are valuable for university and other career building skills.” (Rockford Bouchard, Environmental Studies Major)
“I am extremely grateful for the scholarship, as it helped me continue my education while studying in Krakow, Poland. It was an experience I will never forget. Besides studying the Polish language and culture, I also met lifelong friends from all over the world. It was such an amazing opportunity being immersed in a place that is so full of exquisite culture.” Ala Kreml (Faculty of Nursing)