An Evening at The Polish-American Cultural Center
On Thursday evening, we went to the Polish-American Cultural Center in Slavic Village to attend a reception organized by Mr. Gene Bak, Director of the Center, on behalf of Mr. Maciej Golubiewski, Consul General of the Republic of Poland in New York who was visiting Northeast Ohio.
We looked up the Consul General's bio on the website of Polish consulate in New York and read:
On the basis of the Law on Foreign Service Minister of Foreign Affairs appointed Mr. Maciej Golubiewski to perform as the head of the Consulate General in New York. Mr. Golubiewski has assumed the office on Monday, January 16th, 2017. Maciej Golubiewski was born in Łódź, Poland, in 1976. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude from Washington and Lee University (1999) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics and has a Master of Arts degree in Political Science from the Johns Hopkins University (2005). He also holds an International Baccalaureate Diploma from the United World College of the Atlantic in the UK. Mr. Golubiewski received academic scholarships from all three institutions. After graduation, he moved to Washington D.C. where he spent three years in business consulting at Charles River Associates International (CRAI) before going on to graduate school. During his studies Mr. Golubiewski interned with the office of Senator Richard Lugar, served as a summer fellow at the Heritage Foundation and was an associate scholar at the Center for European Policy Analysis. For close to five years, he was a teaching assistant and lecturer in political science and international relations at the Johns Hopkins University and spent two semesters as a visiting professor at Mannheim University in Germany. In 2008, he joined, as an established official, the Directorate General for Development and Relations with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries at the European Commission in Brussels as a desk officer responsible for regional political and economic cooperation with the Horn, East and Southern Africa region. During that time he participated in the Economic Partnership Agreement free trade negotiations with the African regional blocks. In 2011, he was transferred to the newly created European External Action Service, where, since 2012, he had been responsible for preparing the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council positions on the developing conflict in Syria. Most recently, between 2014 and 2016, Mr. Golubiewski served as the Deputy Chief of Mission and the Head of the Political Section at the EU Delegation to Lebanon in Beirut. Mr. Golubiewski sits on an advisory board of the Integral Economic Development master programs at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C, and for almost ten years has been associated with the Sobieski Institute in Warsaw as an expert on the EU and foreign policy. He speaks Polish, English and French.
After he arrived, Mr. Golubiewski said that he wanted to devote as much time as possible to talking to all of us on an individual basis so his speech was quite short. He said that he and Ms. Sabina Klimek, Consul of the Trade and Investment Section, and their families were on a "whirlwind tour" of our region for the purpose of cultivating trade and cultural relations between the Midwest and Poland.
Mr. Golubiewski said that, above all, he considered it his job to meet with Polish-Americans and see what is important to them and explore how he and his office could be of assistance.
After his initial presentation, he received citations from Ms. Marcelina Sladewska representing Cleveland City Councilperson Tony Brancatelli and Mr. Ed Rybka, Chief of Regional Development for the City of Cleveland, representing Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson. Mr. Rybka told Mr. Golubiewski that in Cleveland he would "see a vibrant Polish community that we are all proud to be a part of."
During the Q and A, the Consul General was asked about recent actions of the European Parliament regarding reintroducing visa requirements for U.S. citizens traveling to countries in the European Union. Mr. Golubiewski said that everything was in the planning stages and nothing was definite at this time. Privately, we asked him about the refugee crisis and he indicated that, due to steps taken by Turkey, he didn't believe that Europe would experience another influx of refugees in the near future.
Before the program, we had a good visit with Mr. Mark Bak, the son of Mr. Gene Bak, who was visiting Cleveland from Texas where he now lives. We didn't realize this before, but in the early years of this country many people who immigrated here from Poland settled in Texas thus there are several cities there with Polish names as well as old Polish churches.
In what was undoubtedly the highpoint of the evening, Mr. Golubiewski called forward Mr. Gene Bak, Ms. Alina Stella Czerniec, and Ms. Anna Maria Novak in order that he could present each of them with the Siberian Exiles Cross which "Wikipedia" describes as "a state decoration awarded by the President of Poland...in order to recognize and commemorate the sufferings of the Polish citizens deported to Siberia, Kazakhstan, and Northern Russia in 1939-1956 and their devotion to the ideals of freedom and independence."
Mr. Golubiewski said that not only did they survive and managed to cross many countries in order to get to the United States but they "never left your heritage" and they made the United States a better place too.
Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC