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A Day at The Polish-American Cultural Center

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On Monday, April 24th, we attended a reception at the Polish-American Cultural Center on Lansing Avenue in Slavic Village in which noted attorney Ms. Maria Szonert Binienda was installed as Honorary Consul of the Republic of Poland in Ohio by Mr. Jan Dziedziczak, the Polish Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs who was visiting the U.S. from Warsaw.

In one of the kindest gestures towards us since we started writing this blog, Ms. Szonert Binienda quietly translated Mr. Dziedziczak's opening remarks (spoken entirely in Polish) for us as he talked. The thrust of his speech centered around the vital need to preserve Polish history, heritage, culture and language by passing it to future generations who live both in Poland and abroad. 

Later, we went to www.msz.gov and found an entry dated March 17th, 2017 which quoted the Deputy Minister, speaking before the International Congress of Family in Warsaw, as committing to spend millions to support Polish education and thus there are 700 projects in the works involving Polish students, schools, and teachers around the world.

 Indeed Mr. Dziedziczak emphasized that knowledge of the Polish language is the key to understanding Poland's culture and its traditions. He also wanted positive things about Polish history to be more widely known such as the fact that during WWII and the years leading up to it, the non-Jewish people in Poland did more to aid their Jewish neighbors than the non-Jews in any other European country.

One point of Mr. Dziedziczak's speech that especially interested us was when he urged U.S. people of Polish descent to fight for the visa waiver program because Poland is one of only four countries in Europe whose citizens are required to obtain a visa to enter the United States. 

In an article we read online about Ms. Szonert Binienda at "Stany Zjednoczone-USA" or polishnews.com dated April 19th, it was written that her duties as an Honorary Consul will be "to promote the development of friendly relations and economic, cultural and scientific cooperation between the Republic of Poland and the United States of America. She will also be responsible for Polish citizens staying in her consular district by helping them and protecting their rights as well as representing the rights and interests of the Republic of Poland."

In the course of her brief remarks, Ms. Szonert Binienda said that she regarding her new position as a great honor and appreciated the trust that was being bestowed upon her. Above all, she wanted to serve her people and looked forward to developing "fruitful relationships" which will enable her to be as effective as she could be. She also thanked the other honorary consuls Ms. Ingrida Bublys (Lithuanian), Mr. Hans Kessler (Swiss), and Mr. Manuel M. Lopez (Spain) for attending her installation; as did Mr. Maciej Golubiewski, the Consul General of Poland based in New York; and said she looked forward to receiving their "guidance and advice."

We had previously met Ms. Szonert Binienda and her husband, Professor Wieslaw Binienda, Ph.D., Dept. Chair and Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Akron, at a piano concert given by their son, Mr. Konrad Binienda in February, 2015 at St. Casimir Church to pay tribute to Frederic Chopin on his 205th birthday. Of course both Konrad and Prof. Binienda were there at the Polish-American Cultural Center that night and Konrad beautifully performed on the piano for everyone in attendance before the ceremony.

In fact, before we left, Mr. Gene Bak, Director of the Center, let it be known that Konrad will play again on Saturday, April 29th, at 7pm at St. Stanislaus Church on East 65th Street. Moreover, in 2018, he is scheduled to give a concert at Carnegie Hall.

By:

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC