Monday, June 6, 2016

A Conference, A Visitor, A Trip

This edition of my blog from Poznan finds us with about five weeks remaining in our 10-month stay here. Activities are not diminishing in the least. In fact, we seem to be picking up the pace a bit.

Last month, I participated in a conference in Opole, about three hours by train south of Poznan. It's a small and beautiful city on the Oder River and home to a university focusing on nursing, physical therapy and related health professions. This was a medically-themed conference exploring strategies for strengthening research grant proposals. I spoke about a project my UNC Charlotte home department, Communication Studies, has been involved with for several years -- persuading people to stop putting cooking grease down kitchen drains. Sounds like a minor issue, I know, but resulting sewer pipe blockages cost North Carolina and other states millions in repairs every year. It's a public health issue as well as an environmental issue, and changing people's behavior to address the problem requires a comprehensive, strategic communication approach. Consequently, I spoke at the conference about including a communication component in public health-related grant applications. I also included possibilities of incorporating experiential learning, service learning and community engagement components, as we have done with the grease disposal campaign in North Carolina.
The logo for the conference in Opole.
In addition to my individual presentation, I served on a panel discussion addressing early academic career challenges.

Dr. Jacek Koziel, a professor with Iowa State University and a Fulbright Scholar serving in Wroclaw, Poland, also participated in the Opole conference. Here we are conferring between sessions. 

The conference schedule permitted a bit of touring one afternoon. Here a number of participants, representing, I believe, four countries, tour an open-air museum in Opole.
My presentation on communication's role in changing behaviors related to public health issues.

Classes and Guest Lectures Continue

My colleagues at UNC Charlotte completed classes a month ago, but the semester agenda here still has two weeks of classes remaining. Additionally, I continue to be offered great opportunities for guest lectures. Most recently, I spoke to a student organization of future business leaders about the critical importance of communication as a leadership skill. I addressed the need for organizational leaders to cultivate a culture of open communication and strategies to engender that culture. My hope is that these aspiring Polish CEO's will help amplify Poland's considerable economic progress in the years ahead.
A guest lecture on communication as a vital leadership skill.

A Visit to Wrocław

One of Poland's most beautiful cities, and the EU 2016 European Capital of Culture, is Wrocław, about two hours south of Poznan by train. This gem, left largely destroyed at the end of the Second World War, has become one of Europe's must-see destinations. A magnificent city square, fascinating architecture, pastoral river banks, and spacious parks provide a superb example of Poland's well-advanced transition. Robin and I spent a recent long weekend in Wrocław and consider it one of our best trips ever. A chance encounter on a train a few weeks earlier connected us with Agnieszka, who recently completed her master's degree in Wrocław (the city boasts several highly regarded universities). She insisted on providing a walking tour of her city during our visit, and she proved a highly knowledgeable guide. 
The Stary Rynek (old market square) in Wrocław.

Agnieszka knew all the quirky corners of Wrocław.

The indoor market in Wrocław.

It's the season for delicious white asparagus here. 

So many fantastic views along the Oder River in Wrocław.

The view from the top of a university building in Wrocław.
One of the features of Wrocław are the bronze gnomes found throughout the city. It's sort of a treasure hunt to find the tiny, unexpected statues, cleverly crafted to reflect the location. You have to keep your eyes peeled.

Here's a gnome on the sidewalk in front of a library.

And here's one on the river bank. This gnome is washing clothes in the river.

This gnome sits on a window ledge of a former prison.

The serene and manicured Japanese Garden in Wrocław.

Fellow Fulbrighter Dr. Jacek Koziel (Iowa State University) and his wife, Elizabeth, graciously invited Robin and me to join their family for dinner in their Wroclaw apartment.

For many more photos of our trip, here's the link to the Dropbox album:

If you'd just like to see a few short videos of musical groups performing traditional Polish songs on the Stary Rynek in Wroclaw, here are links:

A Visitor from Milwaukee

Robin and I were delighted to welcome my cousin Ken from our hometown of Milwaukee, who spent a week with us in Poznan. He had visited Poland previously, but not Poznan, and he found the city as enjoyable as do we. We pushed him pretty hard during his few days here, but he never faltered, taking in many of Poznan's key sites. We were so glad to have family join us on this great adventure. 
We called again upon our Polish friend Monika (right) to lead a walking tour of Poznan. On the tour are Jackie (left), wife of another U.S. Fulbright professor teaching here in Poznan (he's from Appalachian State University), my cousin Ken, and my wife, Robin.
Ken, checking the photos he took of the park in front of the Poznan Opera.

Ken, a physician in Milwaukee, is also a highly accomplished organist. He very much enjoyed the concert in Poznan's Baroque Fara Church of St. Stanislaus. The church presents organ concerts each Saturday just after noon. 

Time for me to get back to preparing final exams! Thanks, as always, for your visit to my blog. If you haven't yet visited Poland, I hope these posts are stimulating your desire to do so. Do widzenia!

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