On Wednesday, October 24, the University of Michigan Copernicus Center for Polish Studies (CCPS) hosted a reception for U-M alumni, partners, past guests, and friends of the program at Villa Foksal restaurant in Warsaw, Poland. The fifty guests in attendance enjoyed Polish-inspired cuisine while networking and reflecting on their Michigan experience.

CCPS Director and Master of Ceremonies Geneviève Zubrzycki welcomed our esteemed guests with opening remarks highlighting the program’s gratitude for the generous support and collaboration from those in attendance. Zuzanna Ziomecka (B.A., ’98), an editor at Poland’s largest daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, delivered a powerful message about her undergraduate studies in Ann Arbor, stressing U-M’s unique atmosphere that fosters cross-disciplinary excellence. Ziomecka is responsible for digital innovations for the women’s magazine Wysokie Obcasy (High Heels) and is editor-in-chief of NewsMavens.com—a news round-up curated exclusively by women from Europe, which examines whether gender has an impact on news narrative. She received the Editor-of-the-Year Award for founding the first Polish lifestyle magazine for parents in 2008, and is also one of few women to ever serve as chief editor for a weekly magazine, Przekrój, in Poland. 

Other alumni living in Poland in attendance included Anna Topolska (M.A., ’15), who recently established her own language school in Poznań; Maciej Kowalski (B.A., ’09); Stanley Urban (B.A., ’72); Patryk Roczon (B.A., ’17); and Elizabeth Divis (M.F.A., ’08). Former Copernicus Lecturers were plentiful, and included Robert Biedroń, former mayor of Słupsk and leader of a new movement for democracy; Krzysztof Śmiszek, human rights lawyer, activist, and managing editor of the Anti-Discrimination Law Review; Witold Sobków, former Ambassador of Poland to NATO; world-renowned artists Stasys and Zbigniew Libera; and award-winning author Agata Tuszyńska. Last but not least, we welcomed several strategic CCPS institutional partners, among them Professors Tomasz Zarycki and Renata Siemieńska of the University of Warsaw’s Robert Zajonc Institute for Social Studies; Michał Trębacz, head of the research division at POLIN Museum; Fulbright Director Justyna Janiszewska; Agnieszka Rudzińska and Szymon Wróblewski of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute; and Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka of the Jan Karski Foundation.

The blend of alumni, partners, and former distinguished lecturers from a wide variety of industries and disciplines made for a memorable and dazzling evening in Warsaw, and demonstrated the extensive CCPS network created through years of engagement with Poland. “It was a truly unique experience to have gathered in a single room, in Poland, so many of CCPS’ old friends, loyal partners, and illustrious guest speakers, and to reconnect with our alumni,” said Geneviève Zubrzycki. “We wanted to express our commitment to our educational mission, and thank those present for their contribution in making CCPS the best Polish studies program in North America.”