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Day 4/Warsaw

Warsaw Walking Tour

After a long drive yesterday, we woke to a beautiful, chilly morning in Warsaw where we began our day with a walking tour of the Jewish Ghetto. Led by an expert guide and local historian Agnieszka Kus; the leadership lessons were abundant.

Most impactful were the stories of Adam Czerniakow and Willy Brandt. Mr. Czerniakow, head of the Warsaw Ghetto Jewish Council, took his own life rather than sign the order of the mass deportation of his community to the death camps, signaling the dire situation ahead. Decades later, in 1970, Willy Brandt demonstrated the importance of asking forgiveness when he knelt and laid a wreath at the Pomnik Bohaterow Getta, honoring the heroes of the Warsaw uprising, including Mr. Czerniakow. The foreign press took and published photos of this historic gesture, which challenged the Soviet propaganda circulating in Poland at the time and paved the way for the transition to democracy two decades later.

Following the walking tour, we visited the Warsaw Farmer’s market and enjoyed a traditonal lunch of local cuisine.

Humanosh – Making the impossible possible.

After lunch, we met with Kasia Skopiec and her daughter Suzanna and they shared their leadership journey with us, explaining how they are working to make the impossible possible. 

Kasia’s family history shaped her leadership journey. Kasia’s grandparents were responsible for hiding 39 jews over a 22 month period. Their efforts resulted in saving 10% of the remaining Jewish population in Drohobych. Kasia and her family remain in touch with all the families of those housed by her grandparents. She considers them part of her extended family. She continued to expand her extended family through volunteering with her local community. The foundation Kasia founded, Humanosh, helps political refugees start over in Poland. They help people get on their feet and integrate them into the Poland community by providing language and housing assistance. The funding for their organization comes from private donors and volunteerism. Some refugees eventually become their volunteers and advocate on behalf of those in similar experiences. 

It was an inspiration to learn about the Skopiec family and their compassion for the human spirit. Class 50 donated 24 backpacks full of school supplies and some American Chocolate to boost the spirits of recent, teenage refugees. CALF made a monetary donation to the foundation as well.

US Embassy Visit

After saying goodbye to our guests from Humanosh, we enjoyed a visit from several members of the US Embassy. From FAS, Alicia Hernadez & local staff Anna Galica, from the State Department, Ryan Bowles, the Economic Section, Jon Cebra, the Public Affairs department, and Christopher Reed-Waddell, from the Consular Section, as well as Benjamin Coburn, from Political Affairs, who joined virtually. Each member of the embassy gave a detailed presentation, helping us understand the current affairs of Poland from an agricultural, political, and European Union perspective. At the end of the evening, we enjoyed the company of our embassy guests with a lovely, local meal at Ale Gloria.

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