In the Novotel hotel in Warsaw (former Forum Hotel), on March 7, 2019, the ceremony commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Fulbright program in Poland took place. Established immediately after the end of World War II, during the administration of Harry Truman, the program of international exchange of students and scientists, found its first partner from behind the Iron Curtain right here in Poland. Franciszek Lyra, the first Polish Fulbright scholarship holder, then a freshly promoted master of English at the University of Warsaw, currently senior university lecturer and a very active member of our Association, left for the United States in 1959.
The Warsaw anniversary celebrations took on a solemn character. The guests were welcomed by Justyna Janiszewska, executive director of the Polish-American Fulbright Commission, accompanied by her American and Polish partners: Georgette Mosbacher, U.S. ambassador in Poland, Dr. Piotr Dardziński, secretary of state in Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education, and Prof. Marek Konarzewski, member of the Board of Fulbright Polska. The congratulatory letter sent from Washington, D.C. by the U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo was read by Frank J. Finver, cultural attaché of the American embassy in Warsaw. “The first word that comes to my mind when I hear: the Fulbright program is: excellence,” Ambassador Mosbacher told to the gathered audience.
An academic conference was woven into the anniversary celebrations, titled: How to attract American students to Polish universities? The key-note speech was offered by Prof. Juanita Villena-Alvarez from the University of South Carolina Beaufort. The speaker in a bravura way proved the attractiveness of Poland and its academic institutions, proposing a smart plan of promoting Polish universities abroad. A special attraction of the evening was the United States Air Forces Band invited specially for this occasion from the military base in Germany. Maestria performances and swinging rhythms made the honorable guests from the first rows leaving their seats and dancing in pairs at the cordial applause of the other participants.