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Day 5/Warsaw

Morning sunshine welcomed Day 5 and a packed agenda.


Our first stop at Old Town Warsaw gave Class 50 the chance to incorporate one of our international trip mottos – “pack your patience.” Our original plans for our first stop didn’t work out, but we were able to meet with Brother Marian Markiewicz of St. John’s Archcathedral, whose story includes his years of friendship with Pope John Paul II that he documented in a book called “The Culprit.”

Class 50 with Brother Marian Markiewicz
Inside St. John’s Archcathedral, Old Town Warsaw

As we departed the bascilica, we made our way to Old Town Market Place. After the Warsaw Uprising, the market place was blown up by the German Army when WWII ended, the Old Town Market Place was restored to its prewar appearance. If you ever get the opportunity to spend some time in Warsaw, be sure to add this destination to your list. It’s narrow roadways, cobblestone streets and medieval buildings make it a location that you’ll want to spend time and money. Class 50 spent a bit of time helping to stimulate the local economy by purchasing items native to Poland, including amber jewelry, tablecloths linens, Christmas ornaments, and a variety of home goods.

Class 50 Fellows enjoying the sunshine in Old Town Warsaw

Food is always an important part of visiting any country and we had a taste of local cuisine at a local restaurant called Kamienne Schodki where we feasted on mushroom soup, followed by pork tenderloin and gravy, Polish gnocchi and cooked beets.


After our traditional Polish lunch, we boarded the bus for an afternoon tour of the Warsaw Rising Museum that was established 1983, and finally opened in 2004 on the 60th anniversary of the outbreak and fighting in Warsaw. Inside this multi-level museum you’ll find artifacts that display a pictorial story of the uprising in 1943, including a replica of a B-24 Liberator used by the Polish military, and a large cinema where we watched a short video called “Miastro Ruin” (City of Ruins). The museum features 800 exhibitions with over 1,500 photos and an active chapel where Sunday service is held at 12:30 p.m.

Warsaw Rising Museum


In the afternoon we had the great pleasure to meet and listen to Michal Skup, an attorney by trade, and a hobby snail farmer, yes snails!

We were introduced to Mr. Skup as  a Past President of his local Rotary Club and learned a little more about Rotary International’s Four-Way test: Is it the truth?; Is it fair to all concerned?; Will it build goodwill and better friendships?; and Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

Next, Mr. Skup shared some interesting facts about Poland:

All farms in Poland started as 10 hectares in 1990 as imposed by the Commuminism Government.  This no longer exists today

Farmers pay $100 per quarter in income tax, regardless of size.  Must own 1 hectare of land and must take farming courses from the University 

Catholic Church is the largest farm land owner in Poland

Poland is the 3rd largest producer of grains 6th largest producer of pork and 8th largest producer of cattle in the European Union

Over the past 17 years farm land has materially increased in price.  In US dollars it was $1,200 per hectacre, now $10,000 per hectare.

After learning about Poland agriculture, Mr. Scup shared the story of his family’s snail farm, which was started after Mrs. Scup inherited land from her family.  They originally were harvesting to sell at local food fairs, but after realizing the amount of work associated with that, they shifted gears into “ready to eat” products and continue to operate under their label, Slimaki. He graciously left behind some samples for us to try.


We wrapped up our Friday evening with a Shabbat service at Ec Chaim under the direction of Rabbi Stas Wojciechowicz. Participating in a Shabbat service was a first for many of Class 50 Fellows, and we were given an English prayer book so we could follow along. Our class was graciously welcomed by Rabbi Stas, who serves as a Progressive Rabbi and has been in the Ec Chaim Synagogue for 11 years. After Shabbat service in the Synagogue we gathered at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews for a traditional Shabbat five-course meal and interactive experience with Iza, a local woman from the Jewish community who led us in Shabbat prayer and song.

Shabbot dinner with Kris Costa, Abby Taylor-Silva, Rabbi Stas, and Natasha Crivelli

As we complete our final full day in Warsaw (at 11 p.m.), we reflect on some final thoughts:

  1. The citizens of Warsaw were brave and determined and when left with no alternate options they were willing to sacrifice it all for their freedom. And, for those who survived, they returned home with nothing and rebuilt. The people of Warsaw are the true definition of resilience.
  2. Learning from historical leaders around the world allows us to grow in our leadership style. Often times we learn more from our failures than our successes; we have to be committed to step out of our comfort zone and stand up for what is right in that moment in time. ”If not me, then who? If not now, then when?”
  3. Traveling internationally provides opportunities to learn about different cultures, and while it may seem overwhelming at times, take in every moment. Journaling along the way will help you reflect as you continue through your leadership journey.

One thought on “Day 5/Warsaw

  1. Thank you Class 50 for the detailed description of your day in Warsaw. I viewed the film The Pianist again last week which focuses on the true story of a surviving member of a Jewish family who escapes being sent to the death camps but lives in hiding in Warsaw, including during the uprising. It gives me chills to know you were there where it actually happened and saw artifacts from that time. Such bravery people demonstrated; would I be able to do the same?


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