Fulbright Poland Virtual Thanksgiving

  • Aleksandra Szaniawska
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Fulbright Poland virtual Thanksgiving

On November 25 we organized a virtual Thanksgiving gathering for our American Fulbrighters on. Zoom. We are grateful that 55 people joined this event and celebrated with us the joy of belonging to the Fulbright Poland community.

Our program was packed with various activities in the main room interspersed with three networking sessions in breakout rooms. We started off our gathering with several Fulbrighters graciously volunteering to contribute “something special” to our virtual program: Rachel Moss shared some stories of her favorite Thanksgiving traditions; Pamela Howland performed her beautifully uplifting piano rendition of “Amazing Grace”; and Eri Nox (Muscogee Creek Nation) read a poem titled “Whereas” by Native American author Layli Long Soldier to keep us mindful that some Indigeneous Peoples perceive this day as a National Day of Mourning – “I cogitate I / tune up to / terms of pre / vailing stand / ards / accept / ability / enunci / ation.”

The networking sessions in breakout rooms allowed everyone to meet up in various configurations in smaller circles – a chance for everyone to both see and touch base with their fellow Fulbrighters from the same grant year, as well as meet people from different years. We had a special “Bingo” board with some common (and fun!) Polish experiences and played together while exchanging our stories. A session “Life after Fulbright” in breakout rooms divided by academic year allowed everyone to chat specifically with their Fulbright cohort and learn what people are up to these days. And the last breakout room session revolved around reflecting upon the question “What am I grateful for?” – a much needed reminder of good things that have happened throughout 2020.

There is no Thanksgiving without some sort of cooking involved. And so, we organized a “cooking” session focused on preparing a spicy beverage: winter tea, apple cider or mulled wine (depending on preference and probably time zone). Prior to the event, participants received a list of spices that included star anise, cloves and cinnamon sticks to have at hand for the event. While we delighted in the sweet aroma of simmering spices, we had a chance to learn more about the history of cider mills in Michigan from a short presentation prepared by Joseph Muller. 

Our special surprise for our Alumni, revealed only at the beginning of our gathering, was inviting to the event Dorota Kostowska, a graphic artist who “recorded” the meeting in an unusual way – a graphic illustration. This way, apart from fabulous memories, we all have some sort of a keepsake to remind us of this day.

The silver lining of remote work and home isolation are shared moments like our virtual Thanksgiving hangout, when we can all come together as a community, laugh together, be creative together, support one another, and ponder upon some fun memories while shedding a few tears of joy. This sense of joy and community reverberated throughout the entire event: “Being a Fulbrighter is a uniting thing”; “When I think of my Fulbright grant in Poland, I think of curiosity and openness”; “My Fulbright in Poland was a fantastic adventure, the best experience of my life.” Our Fulbright Poland team is most grateful for all of you and every single one of you – Thank you for staying in touch and once again enthusiastically joining us on this special occasion. 

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