Meeting of Polish and Belarusian Alumni in Krakow

It was a wonderful meeting of Polish and Belarusian Alumni of the US Department of State programs.

And it all started with the acquaintance of Rafal Pieprzyk – President of the Alumni Association with Vadzimir Zarankin, who was the tutor of Belarusian Alumni at the US Embassy in Minsk. We had the opportunity to meet during the workshop “Alumni Focused Strategy Seminar: Best Practices, Success Stories and Alumni Associations” organized by the US Embassy in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. We were there in September 2018.

Following the outbreak of repression of civil society in Belarus, following the rigged presidential elections in August 2020, many Belarusian Alumni of the US Department of State programs were forced to leave their country. A large number of them currently reside in Poland. Vadzimir himself currently lives in Lithuania, where he works at the American Council for International Education. This office manages programs that target Belarusian citizens, in cooperation with the Belarus Department of the US Embassy in Lithuania. This especially includes working with Belarusian Alumni.

This familiarity, as well as activities that unite Belarusian alumni, was the basis for initiating a series of meetings between alumni from our countries. Belarusians are alumni of such programs as: Fulbright Visiting Scholar, FLEX, YLP and Community Connections.

The first meeting took place in Krakow last Tuesday, June 25. We were invited to the restaurant Plac Nowy 1 in Krakow’s Kazimierz (the former Jewish quarter of Krakow). Over tasty dishes and thirst-quenching drinks, we had a chance to get to know each other better and learn more about the current situation of our Belarusian friends. First acquaintances were made and joint activities for the future were initiated. We hope to see the results of this cooperation.